- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2003

BAGHDAD (AP) — The United States is inviting a group of international experts to inspect two mobile labs suspected of being used by Iraq as biological-weapons facilities, a senior military commander involved in the weapons hunt told the Associated Press yesterday.

Although the laboratories do not represent proof that Iraq had biological weapons, U.S. officials believe their only purpose was for making such weapons. Outside confirmation could help legitimize one of the Bush administration’s main reasons for going to war.

“We’re going to invite a special team, an international team of experts to take a look at the labs,” said Col. Tim Madere, the chemical-weapons specialist for the U.S. Army’s V Corps, one of the main units occupying Baghdad.

Col. Madere said the Pentagon would provide further details about the international team in coming days. The two labs already have been inspected by U.S. and British technical experts and a group of scientists from coalition countries, the colonel said in an interview.

Earlier this month, Pentagon officials said the discovery of the first trailer — seized at a checkpoint near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on April 19 — could prove Iraq had active programs to produce weapons of mass destruction.

Troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division found the second trailer May 9 at al-Kindi, a former missile research facility in Iraq. The trailer is similar to another found last month in the same area that U.S. officials believe was a mobile germ-weapons workshop.

Some equipment from the latest trailer had been looted, and there were indications such as unfinished welding that the apparatus was incomplete.

Col. Madere said soldiers needed to scrounge for tires to put on the trailer to drag it back for analysis to Baghdad’s international airport — headquarters for the U.S. military here.


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