Chemical weapons found in Iraq mostly duds

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and probably are so old they couldn’t be used as designed, intelligence officials said Thursday.

Two lawmakers – Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich. – on Wednesday circulated a one-page summary of a military intelligence report that says coalition forces have recovered about 500 munitions with mustard or sarin agents, and more could be discovered around Iraq. “We now have found stockpiles,” Santorum asserted.

But intelligence officials said the weapons were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and there is no evidence to date of chemical munitions manufactured since then. They said an assessment of the weapons concluded they are so degraded that they couldn’t now be used as designed.

They probably would have been intended for chemical attacks during the Iran-Iraq War, said David Kay, who headed the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004.

He said experts on Iraq’s chemical weapons are in “almost 100 percent agreement” that sarin nerve agent produced from the 1980s would no longer be dangerous.

There is no evidence that insurgents have found the chemical munitions. But one official said that insurgents have improvised conventional weapons, so they could apply similar creativity with the vintage weapons.

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