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The Unconventional Arsenal

The United Nations and United States suspect Iraq still holds dangerous amounts of chemical and biological "weapons of mass destruction."

  • The types and amounts of biological and chemical weapons listed here are what Iraq says it possessed over the last seven years.

  • The U.N. suspects that Iraq has a considerable arsenal of equipment that the country could use to launch warheads filled with biochem weapons.

    Iraq In-Depth

    Anthrax This often fatal bacteria causes high fever, difficulty in breathing, chest pain and eventually blood poisoning. Antibiotics often prove useless after a short period. 2,245 gallons, enough to kill billions. The U.N. suspects production was three to four times that.
    Botulinum Toxin This bacteria first causes vomiting, constipation, thirst, weakness, fever, dizziness, blurred vision, pupil dilation and difficulty in swallowing. Eventually it causes paralysis, respiratory failure and often death. 5,125 gallons, enough to wipe out Earth's population several times. The U.N. suspects the number may have been twice that.
    Aflatoxin A mold that grows on nuts and other crops, it causes jaundice, internal bleeding and liver cancer. 581 gallons
    Ricin A castor bean derivative, ricin can be used as a pesticide or as an agent of warfare. It kills cells and, having impeded breathing and circulation, causes death within two days. It can also be ingested or injected. 2.7 gallons
    Gas Gangrene Chlostridium perfingens, a meat contaminant, can enter open wounds and cause gas gangrene. Toxins kill muscle cells and cause bloating, shock, jaundice and sometimes death. 90 gallons

    VX A drop of the nerve gas VX prevents the transmission of nerve signals, causing loss of muscle control, respiratory paralysis and death. Four metric tons; the U.N. says the total could be as much as 200 metric tons.
    Sarin Like VX, sarin disrupts communication between nerve cells and causes spasms, nausea, and possibly nervous system collapse and death. 100 to 150 metric tons; the U.N. says the total could be as much as 200 metric tons.
    Mustard Gas Mustard gas can be used in gas, aerosol and droplet form. As a liquid, it causes itching, burning and inflammation on the skin, followed by swelling of tissues. After a day, small blisters form, which are vulnerable to fatal tissue degeneration and infection. Inhalation leads to pulmonary edema, in which fluid floods the lungs, causing suffocation. 500 to 600 metric tons.

    Delivery Systems
    Biological Agents Iraq claims it destroyed these, but U.N. cannot confirm:
  • 16 Al Hussein warheads filled with botulinum toxin, five filled with anthrax and four filled with aflatoxin.
  • 100 R-400 aerial bombs filled with botulinum toxin, 50 filled with anthrax and seven filled with aflatoxin.

    In addition:

  • Iraq claims to have produced four aerosol spray tanks for aircraft.
  • 7,770 pounds of growth media are unaccounted for.

  • Chemical Agents Iraq claims to have filled 50 warheads with chemicals, according to the Department of Defense; only 30 are confirmed destroyed.

    Possibly Equipped These systems, which Iraq had before the Gulf War, are not accounted for now. They can be equipped to deliver chemical or biological weapons.

  • 15,000 to 25,000 rockets
  • 2,000 aerial bombs
  • 15,000 artillery shells

  • SOURCES: A published CIA report and staff research

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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