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Another Bullet Fired from "The Smoking Gun"

Move along. No weapons of mass destruction to see here. Move along. What are you looking at? I said move it. Nothing to see here.

    A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent exploded near a U.S. military convoy, but there were no casualties, the U.S. military said Monday.

    "The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy.

    "A detonation occurred before the IED could be rendered inoperable. This produced a very small dispersal of agent," he said.

    In 1995, Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult unleashed sarin gas in Tokyo's subways, killing 12 people and sickening thousands. In February of this year, Japanese courts convicted the cult's former leader, Shoko Asahara, and sentence him to be executed.

    Developed in the mid-1930s by Nazi scientists, a single drop of sarin can cause quick, agonizing choking death. Small exposures can be treated with antidotes, if administered quickly.

Update 05/17/04 7:22pm - Agent might not be sarin gas Warns Rumsfeld

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and more analysis needed to be done. "We have to be careful," he told an audience in Washington Monday afternoon.

    Then later in the article the device was described as "two components in the shell, which are designed to combine and create deadly sarin, did not properly mix upon detonation." the official said.

    Saddam's government had disclosed binary sarin testing and production after the 1995 defection of Iraqi weapons chief Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Saddam's son-in-law. But Saddam's government never declared that any sarin or sarin-filled shells still remained.

    For that reason, the U.S. government considers the discovery of the sarin shell as significant, the U.S. official said.

    "What is of concern is that that there may be more of them out there," the official also said.

    At the State Department, deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said "the jury is still out" on whether chemical or other weapons of mass destruction remained in Iraq.

posted by: Brian Scott

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