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CNN BREAKING NEWS

U.S. Forces Report Possible Chemical Weapons Find in Iraq

Aired April 27, 2003 - 10:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KELLI ARENA, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news from our colleague, Nic Robertson, about a possible chemical weapons find. He is reporting from Ba'iji, Iraq.
Nic, can you hear me?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can, indeed. Ba'iji is about 40 miles north of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown. The team -- a team from the 1st Squadron of the 10th Cavalry were called to a site Friday night on information provided by U.S. Special Forces. They arrived at that sight overnight and the visibility was difficult because it was nighttime. But by the morning, they discovered it was a field site with a lot of sand berms. They discovered 10 to 14, 55-gallon drums at that site hidden behind some sand bergs. Close to those drums, perhaps, about 50 yards away, they say, were missiles. Some of them surface-to-surface missiles, some of the missiles they believe surface-to-air missiles.

They tested the drums. They performed three different tests -- paper tests, a sniffer test and then, a highly sensitive (UNINTELLIGIBLE) test. Those tests gave them the following results. No. 1, they believe there may be blister agent positive, something like mustard gas. They're not saying that it is mustard gas, but it's something like that. That they also have positive tests for cyclosarin. Now, cyclosarin is a nerve agent. And for the soldiers who tested this, this was the first time they had seen it here.

Now, they also discovered at the same site, two mobile laboratories. The cluster of chemical-filled drums were in two different locations in the same field. At each of those locations, there was a mobile laboratory. And the troops we talked to here describe those mobile laboratories would be very probably used for mixing chemicals.

They also discovered at that site 150 gas masks. Now, they say that these weren't the normal gas masks that had been found by coalition forces in Iraq, but high quality gas masks. They also found at that same site charts that indicate dosages of use for chemical weapons.

So at this time the site has now been handed over from the 1st Squadron of the 10th Cavalry to a team of sensitive site exploitation U.S. troop experts. Now, their job will be to make further tests on these chemicals. But certainly these initial tests that had been done by the 10th Cavalry indicate they believe the presence of a nerve agent and the presence of a blister agent -- Kelli. ARENA: Wow! So it could be the smoking gun that the administration has been looking for. Thanks so much, Nic. We'll, obviously, be following that story and have more in the next half hour. Stay with us.

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