New Iraqi rocket revealed with chemical warfare potential
The Jerusalem Post
10 March 2003
United Nations weapons inspectors have recently found a new Iraqi rocket designed to spray bomblets filed with chemical or biological agents over large areas, The New York Times quotes US officials as saying.
A US official told the Times that the weapon was discovered over the last few months, since the return of the inspectors to Iraq in November.
Iraq initially told the inspectors hat the rocket was designed as conventional cluster bomb, and not a chemical weapon.
The distinctive appearance of the rockets' cluster munitions, heavy metal balls with holes in them, suggested their use as a way to disperse chemical or biological weapons, the official tells the Times.
"If you take the kinds of fuses we know they have, and you screw them in there, when these things come out from the main frame and they explode inward, chemical agents come out," he says.
"These can be used for biological weapons, too," the official adds.
The information reinforces the administration's view that the inspectors have found incriminating evidence against Iraq, the newspaper says.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Fox News Sunday that the chief inspector for chemical and biological weapons, Hans Blix, should have made more of the evidence in that report when he appeared before the Security Council last week.
"When you look at page after page of what the Iraqis have done over the years to hide, to deceive, to cheat, to keep information away from the inspectors, to change facts to fit the latest issue, and once they put that set of facts before you, when you find you those facts are false, they come up with a new set of facts it's a constant pattern," Powell said.
Mr. Powell did not mention the rocket, but cited the development of drone aircraft capable of dispensing chemical weapons as another example. According to Israeli assessments the drone has a flying range of some 500 kilometers, which would put it just within striking distance of Israel.