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Iraq: U.S. Says It Has Found Mobile Biological Arms Lab

Washington, 8 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. Defense Department says coalition forces in Iraq have found a suspected mobile biological weapons laboratory used by the toppled government of Saddam Hussein. The announcement at a Pentagon briefing yesterday was the first time Washington said it has evidence of prohibited Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, an issue over which the United States went to war with Baghdad.

Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defense and intelligence, told reporters the mobile lab was discovered at a Kurdish checkpoint in northern Iraq on 19 April, just prior to the fall of Baghdad.

"The coalition forces have come into possession of an Iraqi trailer, which is very similar to that which was described by the Secretary of State [Colin Powell] in his presentation before the United Nations back in February," he said.

Cambone said U.S. forces are conducting tests in Baghdad on the trailer, which matches the description of a mobile biological arms lab given by an Iraqi defector.

The undersecretary stopped short of calling the discovery a "smoking gun." He added that the lab needs further testing, including dismantling, and had been scrubbed down with a caustic material that would have killed off any traces of biological agents.