Saddam's WMD found in UN office in New York

CNN:

Workers found vials believed to contain the poison gas phosgene at a U.N. office building in New York, U.N. officials said Thursday.

U.N. archivists for UNMOVIC, the U.N. chemical weapons agency, unexpectedly turned up samples of material from an Iraqi chemical weapons plant in old files on Friday, U.N. officials said.

The samples were in weapons inspectors' files dating back to the 1990s, but the substance is not believed to pose any immediate danger, the officials said.

The building where the samples turned up is several blocks away from main U.N. Secretariat building along New York's East River. Tests found no toxic vapors in the offices, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. Video Watch how the chemical scare unfolded »

Phosgene is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and pesticides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At room temperature, it is a poisonous gas, but can be stored and shipped under cooling and pressure.

Phosgene was used extensively during World War I as a choking agent and caused a majority of the war's gas deaths, according to the CDC.

Phosgene gas and liquid are irritants that can damage the skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs, the CDC said.

The material was taken from al-Muthanna chemical weapons plant north of Baghdad. The samples are sealed and have been there since 1996.

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While there is a tendency for both sides of the Iraq war to call the other liars, there is a serious issue with respect to Saddam's WMD that has not been taken seriously enough. Saddam was required under the terms of the 91 cease fire agreement and various UN resolutions to account for his WMD. He failed to do so and that is why the war started when it did in 2003. That the US was not able to account for his WMD after the invasion has been used unfairly as a political issue with the bogus suggestion that the President lied. A more mature and serious response to the US inability to account for the weapons too, should be where are they. As the vials found demonstrate there should be no question that he had them, but the question of what happened to them still remains the subject of guess work and not accountability.

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