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The Scotsman

Tue 25 Mar 2003

Missiles find in chemical plant


EXPERTS are examining suspected Scud missiles discovered by British soldiers searching a chemical plant outside Basra.

A number of the grey-painted rockets, about 23ft long, were found in the Dirhamiyah petro-chemical plant close to Iraq’s second city.

The discovery has raised suspicions that Saddam Hussein was planning to arm the missiles with chemical warheads. British officers say it is difficult to find an innocent explanation for storing missiles in a chemical plant.

The find comes a day after soldiers with the Black Watch discovered a cache of weapons, including two Russian al-Harith anti-ship cruise missiles, at the Az Zubayr civilian heliport south of Basra.

'We did not send any goods, including military ones, that violated the sanctions.'


The British defence company whose products were also discovered in the cache has denied selling any products to Iraq.

Wallop Defence Systems, of Middle Wallop, Hampshire, said the "weapons", described as fuses for detonators, were probably smoke grenades stolen by Iraq 13 years ago.

The issue of who supplied Iraq with weapons became increasingly heated yesterday, as Russia dismissed claims from the United States that it had illicitly supplied Saddam with arms. The US claims Russian companies sent anti-tank guided missiles, night-vision goggles and jamming devices to Iraq, in violation of United Nations’ sanctions.

George Bush, the US president, raised the issue with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a phone call yesterday, according to the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer.

But Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, said: "We did not send any goods, including military ones, that violated the sanctions."

He said that from October, the US had requested reports on the alleged illicit sales several times, and that Russia had made its most recent report on 18 March.

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