Second suspected mobile weapons lab found in Iraq
MOSUL, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces in northern Iraq have found a second suspected mobile chemical weapons laboratory, an American military official told CNN Tuesday.
There is "pretty conclusive evidence" that this is a mobile chemical weapons lab, the official said.
The trailer was discovered near Mosul Saturday by members of the Army's 327th Infantry at a former missile production facility that had been heavily looted. It was made up of refrigeration units and piping, compatible with chemical weapons production. What was also believed to be a spraying device was found nearby, the source said.
The suspected lab has been turned over to the military's mobile exploitation team.
Last week, U.S. officials seized another trailer in northern Iraq they suspect was used as a mobile biological weapons laboratory, a senior Defense Department official said.
According to Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, the trailer matched descriptions of mobile biological laboratories provided by an Iraqi defector.
U.S. and British experts have concluded that the trailer "does not appear to perform any function beyond what the defector says it was for, which is the production of biological agents," Cambone said.
The trailer was captured at a Kurdish checkpoint on April 19 and has been brought to Baghdad, where it will be dismantled and subjected to further examination.
Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the defector's account of mobile laboratories to the United Nations in February in an effort to demonstrate that Iraq had violated U.N. resolutions requiring its disarmament.
Powell has since said the discovery "matches very closely" the information he presented at that time.
Last week's announcement came amid mounting questions for the Bush administration about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
A mostly U.S. and British force invaded Iraq in March to oust longtime Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and strip the country of suspected caches of chemical and biological weapons, long-range missiles and efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.
Iraqi officials repeatedly insisted they had given up any efforts to produce banned weapons. No such weapons were used against advancing coalition troops, and none have so far been found by Pentagon experts.
No biological weapons were found inside the trailer, which Cambone said had been washed with "a very caustic substance." But he said it contained equipment not normally used for "legitimate biological processes" -- including exhaust gas recovery systems that could hide evidence of biological weapons production.
"Part of the reason for wanting to continue with the testing is to be able to reach into those parts of the equipment that can't be reached by the superficial testing that we've been able to do," Cambone said. "So that process has to go forward, and we'll see what that yields."
Cambone said weapons experts have visited about 70 of the nearly 600 sites U.S. officials believe are related to Iraq's weapons programs, plus another 40 locations Cambone said they were led to from information discovered since Saddam's government collapsed April 9.
Before the war, Pentagon officials warned that Iraqi troops had been equipped with chemical weapons and were prepared to use them against U.S. forces.
Asked about those reports last week, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the weapons may not have been used "because of the very conduct of the war -- the warnings that were issued immediately prior to the war and the manner in which the war was carried out."
-- CNN Correspondent Gaven Morris contributed to this story.