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2003-03-27 22:21     * RUSSIA * IRAQ * CHEMICAL-WEAPONS * EXPERT *


MOSCOW, 27 March /from RIA Novosti's Pyotr Goncharov/ - Chief of the environmental security department of the Russian natural resources ministry Viktor Kutsenko said Thursday that to produce basic components of chemical weapons, combat poisonous substances, appropriate components and production facilities were required, something Iraq was lacking at the moment.

Taking into account present intelligence capabilities it is practically impossible to hide chemical weapons production facilities and their storage places, said Kutsenko.

Thus, in Kutsenko's opinion, Western media reports saying a plant producing chemical weapons was discovered in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf "do not correspond to reality." Moreover, Kutsenko stressed, it was confirmed by a UN expert who worked in Iraq along other weapons inspectors. He said there was only one industrial facility in Najaf, a cement factory, which was inspected as to a possibility to produce poisonous substances.

The Russian expert is positive reports about Baghdad possessiing chemical weapons are designed to justify the military operation against Iraq and the US' irrepressible wish to get access to cheap Iraqi oil.

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