Video: Chemical find

updated 8/14/2005 7:15:56 PM ET 2005-08-14T23:15:56

Early tests of chemicals seized at a suspected insurgent hideout in northern Iraq indicate they included substances that could be used in explosives, the U.S. military said Sunday.

About 1,500 gallons of various chemicals were found in what the military called an insurgent chemical production facility in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Col. Henry Franke, a nuclear, biological, and chemical defense officer, said chemical samples indicate that the facility could have been used to produce explosives, and that it appeared to be associated with insurgents. However, he said no explosives — only their components — were found.

Chemical samples have been sent to the United States for further tests, Franke said. The military did not say when the tests — which will determine the exact chemicals found, among other things — are expected to be complete.

‘A relatively sophisticated set up’
Franke said it was “very doubtful” that the facility, which appeared to have been manned daily and included escape routes, could have been producing chemicals for industrial use.

“While the facility appears to have been put together using components readily available commercially, this was a relatively sophisticated set up,” Franke said.

Franke said the facility apparently stopped operating about a month ago because of equipment failures, and explosives may have been removed in the meantime.

U.S. troops, acting on a tip from detainees under interrogation, raided the building early Tuesday, the military said. The military did not say if anyone was detained in the raid.

The military has found many suspected chemical sites in the past, none of which ended up containing chemical or biological weapons. Testing of such sites can take several days.

Officials said the seized chemicals do not appear to be linked to Saddam Hussein’s former government.

The U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 to destroy Saddam’s purported weapons of mass destruction. No stockpiles were ever found.

U.S. arms investigators have said there was evidence that Iraqi insurgent groups had tried to manufacture chemical weapons, including one group that recruited a Baghdad chemist who tried and failed to make a nerve agent.

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