U.S. tests for chemical weapons in Afghanistan
MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida (CNN) -- Testing is under way to determine if the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists had plans to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, the head of U.S. operations in the Afghanistan region said Tuesday.
Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, said experts have identified 40 places in Afghanistan, most of which are under opposition control, that "represent the potential for WMD [weapons of mass destruction] research."
"We're very systematically going about our way of visiting each one of those ... [to] perform the analyses ... to assure ourselves that we do not have evidence of WMD," Franks said at a news conference at U.S. Central Command Headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
If biological warfare devices were found, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, they would not be left in the hands of a post-Taliban government.
"In the event weapons of mass destruction are located, the United States would be very interested in getting their hands on them and would be very interested in seeing that it did not remain in the country," Rumsfeld said.
Franks said a variety of chemical compositions were found after opposition forces took control of Taliban areas.
But, he said, it would take some time to determine if the findings indicate the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
"One would also be able to associate that with the making of fertilizer or with the making of any other sort of product," Franks said.
"We have acquired a great deal of samples and now what we need to be very thorough in their analysis."
He said officials have not found evidence that points to a "specific" kind of chemical warfare.
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