November 2, 1997 in Nation/World

Saddam’s Edict Narrowly Blocked Discovery Of Nerve Agent, Says U.N. Team

Associated Press

U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq say they were on the verge of finding Baghdad’s stockpile of the lethal liquid nerve agent VX last week when President Saddam Hussein ordered U.S. members of the team to leave, The Observer newspaper reported.

A few ounces of VX could kill millions of people, The Observer said in its early Sunday edition.

“I think we were getting hot, and maybe that’s part of the reason why they took this decision in the last couple of days,” The Observer quoted the U.N. chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, as saying last week.

“I think we are getting closer and closer,” he said.

VX, which is 10 times as lethal as the nerve gas sarin, can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and causes death by paralysis. It is part of Iraq’s hidden arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, The Observer said.

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