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Pentagon Questions Use Of Iraqi Facilities

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2001 – The Defense Department is keeping a wary eye on some rebuilt factories outside Baghdad, Iraq, that once produced material suitable for chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, officials said.

American and British fliers bombed the buildings in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox, after the Iraqi government forced UN weapons inspectors to leave the country, said DoD spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley at a Jan. 23 Pentagon news briefing.

We have seen their reconstitution of some of the infrastructure that existed prior to some of our attacks in December of 1998, Quigley said. What we dont know is: What is going on in those facilities? That is a cause for concern to us, given Saddam Husseins past track record of obfuscation and denial of his programs of [weapons of mass destruction].

Iraq is required to destroy all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction as part of the 1991 UN Security Council resolutions it signed at the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War, Quigley noted.

He said Iraqi authorities have given plausible explanations for the use of the facilities and cited recent press reports that say one of the facilities produces chlorine, which can be used for water purification, while another makes oil for brake fluid.

However, those reports also note that chlorine can be used for poison gas, and that a biological toxin can be made from castor oil.

Quigley admitted the Pentagon cannot say with certainty that we know exactly what is going on inside those facilities that we have seen. However, he added that DoD isnt inclined to automatically believe any statements provided by Saddam Husseins regime as to the purpose of those factories.

Given his past track record, it will remain a matter of concern for us, he said.

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