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Iraq and biological weapons

Colin has circulated details of an article in the NY Times which draws on
a paper by Milton Leitenberg, a 'biological weapons expert.' Leitenberg's
paper is a digest of an UNSCOM report. ML is, in fact, an academic working
in the field of international and strategic affairs. I point this out
because he probably has no special understanding of microbiology.

Both the NY Times and Leitenberg make an issue of Iraq's missing bacterial
growth media. In ML's paper, these are listed these as casein, yeast
extract and peptone. Leitenberg - and the casual reader - might believe
these to be sinister elements of plague bacillus nutrition.  They are
actually components of simple growth media for laboratory strains of
bacteria and yeast, and are presently on the shelves of every hospital and
university in the UK. For this reason it would be no surprise if, as ML
claims, Iraq 'has developed the capacity to produce its own culture
media.' Our expert's paper is a big load of nothing.

Incidentally, Leitenberg's colleague at the same institute and former
UNSCOM inspector Raymond Zilinskas apparently told Le Figaro newspaper in
February 1998 that the US sent pathogenic strains of anthrax to Iraq,
probably in 1985-6. However, the delivery problem makes anthrax an
unlikely weapon.  It would be difficult to convert liquid lab cultures of
anthrax to a particulate form which would survive in an exploding warhead.
Even then, the spores might not reach a critical concentration near the

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