Chemical weapons presence in a
Kuwaiti ammo point "unlikely"

WASHINGTON, September 25, 1997 (GulfLINK)-- In its latest case narrative , the Pentagon has concluded that it is "unlikely" that any chemical weapons were stored at an Iraqi ammunition supply point (ASP) near the Kuwait International Airport, despite the detection of chemicals by a Fox vehicle.

Case narratives are part of DoD's initiative to inform the public about DoD's efforts to better understand the nature and possible causes of the illnesses being experienced by some Gulf War veterans. The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI) issued its interim report into the possible detections at Ammunition Storage Point (ASP) Orchard .

A Fox chemical detection vehicle drove through the ASP on February 28, 1991. This ammo depot was located in an orchard southwest of Kuwait International Airport. The vehicle commander reported alarms going off three separate times over several minutes successively reporting sulfur mustard, HT mustard and benzyl bromide, the last a type of tear gas. The operator of the MM-1 chemical detector on the Fox vehicle confirmed the detections of the three agents, but says the alarms for the three substances went off simultaneously and were not spaced over several minutes.

The next day, a four-man explosive ordnance team was dispatched to the ASP/Orchard. Using M8 and M18 chemical detectors, which are more sensitive than the MM-1, the EOD team checked the area. The EOD team also did hands-on inspection of the munitions. M18A2 chemical detector kits can detect much lower air concentrations of chemical weapons than the Fox vehicle .

All four members of the EOD team told interviewers that they found no chemicals present nor any signs of chemicals. Reviews of the logs of several units reported the initial alert from the Fox. However, on the next day logs reflecting reports from the EOD team showed that the ASP contained no chemicals.

Separately, a chemical officer form a neighboring Marine unit checked the ASP with a CAM (Chemical Agent Monitor), also a more sensitive detector than the Fox vehicle, and reported finding no chemical weapons. Several members of this unit inspected the ASP without respiratory protection and no one developed any symptoms consistent with chemical injuries. The EOD team members said, however, that there were no U.S. markings on any of the boxes they saw in ASP/Orchard.