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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dangerous Chemicals From Iraq Found At The UN Building In NY?...UPDATED

BREAKING!!

Dangerous chemicals from Iraq have been "found" at the United Nations building in New York.

Updates will follow as news trickles in.

A few questions beg to be asked. How did these chemicals get to the United States? Who brought them in. Why are they here? Who shipped them here? What is the intent? Who knew about the shipment?

UPDATE!!

DEVELOPING STORY: Vials of dangerous chemicals found by weapons inspectors in Iraq more than a decade ago were discovered Thursday in a United Nations office building near the world body's headquarters in the heart of New York City.

No evacuations were ordered, and there was no immediate danger to the public, a U.N. spokesman said.

Hazardous materials personnel and the FBI were reported at the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission offices at 48th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan. The commission's offices are on the building's third and sixth floors.

The material was believed to be phosgene, a chemical warfare agent, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe told a hastily gathered news conference.

U.N. staff found a sealed plastic bag containing "unknown liquid substances contained in metal and glass containers ranging in size from small vials to tubes the length of a pen," she said.

"The only information we have of the contents of that bag is from an inventory of a 1996 inspection which indicates that one of the items may contain phosgene, an old generation chemical warfare agent," Okabe added.

The inspections unit said in a statement that the chemicals had been found last Friday as weapons inspectors were closing their offices, said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the inspectors.

Phosgene was used during World War I as a choking agent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The U.N. issued the following statement on the incident:

"On Friday 24th August 2007 in archiving UNSCOM files, UNMOVI staff discovered two small plastic packages with metal and glass containers (ranging in size from small vials to tubes the length of a pen) with unknown liquid substances. The archives are located at the UNMOVIC headquarters, 866 East 48th Street, 3rd and 6th floors.

"An initial investigation has revealed that these items were recovered from a former Iraqi chemical weapons facility, al Muthamma, by UNSCOM inspectors in 1996.

"It was only on 29 August, however, that the inspection report containing an inventory of the items was recovered. The inventory shows that one of the items may contain phosgene (COCL2) suspended in oil -- an old generation chemical warfare agent. The inventory also indicated that the other package contains Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) reference standards in sealed glass tubes. These standards are used to calibrate chemical analytical equipment.

"UNMOVIC has confirmed that normally such items would have been transported directly to appropriately equipped laboratories for analysis and not sent to UNSCOM/ UNMOVIC headquarters in New York. In the past, UNSCOM chemical samples were sent via military transport directly to Edgewood labs."

Refresh page for updates.


UPDATE 2...

The Inspections Are Working


Hey, they finally found those weapons of mass destruction! The Associated Press reports;

Weapons inspectors who had been in Iraq have found a potentially hazardous chemical in their office near U.N. headquarters, a U.N. spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon.

The building is located near the intersection of 48th Street and 1st Avenue on the Upper East Side [sic] of New York's Manhattan borough. No other details were immediately known.

There have long been rumors that Iraq's WMDs had been smuggled to Syria. It's truly disconcerting to hear they're in our neighborhood instead.