U.N. finds Chemical Weapons in the U.N.

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Wackbag Staff
Aug 14, 2000
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Reuters

Top U.N. staff begin probe of chemical warfare agent
Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:57PM EDT

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday summoned to New York top U.N. officials from a meeting abroad to find out how a potentially lethal chemical warfare agent was stored in U.N. offices in Manhattan.

U.N. weapons inspectors announced on Thursday they had found small amounts of phosgene, a World War I chemical warfare choking agent that attacks the lungs. The vials were brought from Iraq to New York and stored in U.N. offices more than 10 years ago.

Ban's inquiry will examine the circumstances under which the substances were brought to New York from Iraq, the reasons why the items were discovered only in 2007 and "the safety procedures in place at headquarters and in the field offices as well as the extent to which these procedures are followed," said U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe.

Top U.N. officials had been attending or were about to leave for a senior leadership meeting in Turin, Italy, which Ban is chairing.

The secretary-general canceled participation in the session of Undersecretaries-General David Veness, in charge of safety and security and Alicia Barcena, in charge of management, as well as Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and chief of staff Vijay Nambiar.

The FBI on Thursday carted away the materials from the U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission, known as UNMOVIC, which is closing down its operations and sorting materials in 125 filing cabinets.

'NO MORE SURPRISES'

Experts from the commission said the substance, left in a metal container by UNMOVIC's predecessor, the U.N. Special Commission, was under seal and posed no hazard to the public. The commission's offices are in a separate building, about a block from the main U.N. complex in New York.

Brian Mullady, an expert with the U.N. commission, said that since the discovery, a sweep had been made of stored materials "to be sure that we have no more surprises, and we don't."

The inspectors have ended a 16-year effort to destroy Iraq's weapons of destruction, which apparently had been accomplished by 1998. The Bush administration, in an effort to justify the March 2003 invasion, had said that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein continued to produce unconventional weapons. But U.S. investigators found no weapons.

The phosgene was recovered in 1996 from a former Iraqi chemical weapons facility, al-Muthanna, north of Baghdad. Mullady said artifacts were stored in New York, including a Scud missile engine and gyroscopes, while other materials were held at the commission's offices in Larcana, Cyprus and in Iraq.

Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the commission, said the containers were discovered last Friday but an inventory of the contents was not located until Wednesday.

Ban immediately "sought and was given confirmation that the materials in the custody of UNMOVIC posed no risk to the staff or general population," Okabe said. "All necessary safety measures continued to be taken."

Svetlana Utkina, a Russian expert with UNMOVIC, said if the phosgene, in a container the size of a Coca-Cola can, had evaporated it could have been lethal and "a couple of people" would have died.

UNMOVIC said its experts had "tested the environment surrounding the packages using a portable chemical detector and found no concentration of toxic vapors."
 

FredThe4thMic

Censorship goes Cumsies
Feb 11, 2007
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#2
I bet they wish they could UN-do that.
Hem-hem, what'cha gonna do, hem-hem-hem.