Questions over the claimed purpose of trailer for making biological weapons include:
· The lack of any trace of pathogens found in the fermentation tanks. According to experts, when weapons inspectors checked tanks in the mid-Nineties that had been scoured to disguise their real use, traces of pathogens were still detectable.
· The use of canvas sides on vehicles where technicians would be working with dangerous germ cultures.
· A shortage of pumps required to create vacuum conditions required for working with germ cultures and other processes usually associated with making biological weapons.
· The lack of an autoclave for steam sterilisation, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production. Its lack of availability between production runs would threaten to let in germ contaminants, resulting in failed weapons.
· The lack of any easy way for technicians to remove germ fluids from the processing tank.
One of those expressing severe doubts about the alleged mobile germ labs is Professor Harry Smith, who chairs the Royal Society's working party on biological weapons.
He told The Observer 'I am concerned about the canvas sides. Ideally, you would want airtight facilities for making something like anthrax. Not only that, it is a very resistant organism and even if the Iraqis cleaned the equipment, I would still expect to find some trace of it.'
His view is shared by the working group of the Federation of American Scientists and by the CIA, which states: 'Senior Iraqi officials of the al-Kindi Research, Testing, Development, and Engineering facility in Mosul were shown pictures of the mobile production trailers, and they claimed that the trailers were used to chemically produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons.'
Artillery balloons are essentially balloons that are sent up into the atmosphere and relay information on wind direction and speed allowing more accurate artillery fire. Crucially, these systems need to be mobile.
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