Trying to drum up support for a military strike against Iraq, Britain and the United States have been publicizing what's in the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons Saddam Hussein may be hiding.
Iraq still may possess Scud-type missiles with chemical and biological warheads, more than 2,000 gallons of anthrax, 31,000 chemical warfare munitions and more than 600 tons of material to produce the deadly VX nerve agent, Britain warned last week. The figures were based on material gathered by U.N. weapons inspectors.Defense Secretary William Cohen warned earlier this month that the Iraqis are growing hundreds of acres of castor beans - not to make castor oil but to extract a deadly toxin, ricin.
And he quoted the former director of Iraqi intelligence, who defected, as saying that some Iraqi missiles had anthrax-filled warheads.
"So for the Iraqis to say `we have no chemicals or biologicals, we are not engaged in producing these types of weapons of mass destruction,' I think once again has proven to be a lie," Cohen said.
Without continued monitoring, Iraq could produce chemical and biological weapons in weeks, a long-range missile in a year and a nuclear weapon in five years, the report released by British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook warned.
Baghdad also could produce up to 91 gallons of weapons-grade anthrax per week - enough to fill two missile warheads - and make mustard gas within weeks, it said.
"It is only a little harder to make anthrax than it is to run a small microbrewery," former U.S. CIA chief James Woolsey told the House National Security Committee in Washington on Thursday.
Nearly seven years after the U.N. Special Commission was charged with eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, its inspectors say they have evidence of deliberate government attempts to conceal development and procurement of materials for biological and chemical weapons.
And a recent U.N. report indicated Baghdad still may be withholding information about its nuclear program, which U.N. experts thought probably had been dismantled.
Iraq maintains it has destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction. But until that is certified by the inspectors, the United Nations will not lift crippling economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The U.N. Security Council repeatedly has demanded that Iraq allow inspectors unrestricted access to all sites to check compliance, but Baghdad says many sites are off-limits and has impeded access to others.
Inspectors have destroyed 38,537 chemical weapons, 690 tons of chemical warfare agents, 48 operational missiles, six missile launchers and 30 warheads for chemical and biological weapons. They also have accounted for 817 or 819 long-range missiles.
Still, UNSCOM has been unable to account for 4,000 tons of chemicals that can be used to produce weapons, 31,000 chemical warfare munitions, two Scuds and domestically produced missile engines, airframes and warheads.