A STASH of Iraqi training equipment for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare was discovered by British troops yesterday, including a Geiger counter, nerve gas simulators, gas masks and protective suits.
One of the chemicals found in the cache was marked ominously in Russian and English with the name sarin, a dangerous nerve gas that Saddam Hussein is suspected to have in his arsenal.
The chemical appeared not to be a sample of sarin but some sort of simulator used to test if sarin was in the atmosphere. Nevertheless it was marked "dangerous to humans if exposed for 10 minutes without a respirator".
Although the discovery did not provide "smoking gun" definitive proof to support Allied claims that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction, it represented a propaganda coup for Britain and America. It showed that nuclear, biological and chemical weapons training was available to Iraqi forces.
"Until further tests are carried out on the vials of chemicals we have found here we do not know exactly what the material is," Captain Kevin Cooney of the Joint Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Regiment said.
"To my eye it looks like training equipment to teach people how to identify if there is something like sarin in the air and what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.
"Further tests will have to be done and this is now a matter that has been passed up the chain of command."
The discovery was made in an Iraqi ordnance facility south of Basra in territory now controlled by coalition forces. …