Tuesday, August 25, 1998 Published at 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
US 'reveals' nerve gas evidence
Sudanese officials examine the rubble of the factory
An anonymous US intelligence official has reportedly revealed evidence of nerve gas production in the Sudanese factory hit by American missiles last week.
The official told reporters that a soil sample from immediately outside the Shifa plant had shown traces of a substance called EMPTA, which has no commercial uses but is a key ingredient of the nerve gas VX.
He said the sample was "obtained by clandestine means".
He said the substance got there "either through airborne emissions or spillage from the manufacturing process."
A US State Department spokesman said that the Sudanese plant "very well may have been producing pharmaceuticals," as the Sudanese Government has said, but "that in no way alters the fact that the factory also was producing precursor elements."
The intelligence official said production of EMPTA could have taken place in a small part of the large chemical plant and evidence may be difficult for international inspectors to find.
No UN action
The question of whether or not the factory was producing chemical weapons' components was briefly discussed at the United Nations on Monday night.
The US said it could not see the point of such an inquiry.
US diplomats say Washington does not trust the Sudanese not to tamper with evidence, and does not want to share its intelligence information with members of the UN.
Less militant line
However despite the opposition to its request Sudan seems to be looking ahead to improving relations with the US, after earlier recalling all its diplomats from Washington and its ambassador from London.
The speaker of the Sudanese parliament, Hassan Turabi, said that American foreign policy was "pragmatic" and he did not think it would take too long for relations to improve.
He nonetheless condemned the US attack as "most criminal, most savage" and said: "all the Sudanese now actually see the United States, generally, as the incarnation of the devil, of evil."