Wednesday, June 24, 1998 Published at 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
World: Middle East
UN confirms nerve gas reports
UN weapons inspectors at work in the Iraqi desert
The chief United Nations weapons inspector, Richard Butler, says that laboratory tests on Iraqi missile fragments show that Baghdad had filled some of its warheads with chemical weapons.
Reports that UN weapons inspectors had discovered traces of the deadly VX nerve gas on Iraqi missile parts were leaked to the media on Tuesday.
As Iraq continues to deny the reports, correspondents say a new crisis between Iraq and the United Nations over weapons inspections looks increasingly likely.
Iraq has issued a warning that it will adopt a new strategy to get UN sanctions against it lifted.
An official in Baghdad said Iraq had never produced VX weapons and suggested test results from an American laboratory showing traces of the gas on Iraqi missile fragments had been faked.
Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Iraqi scientists had experimented with VX gas but were unable to stabilise it for use in weapons.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he hoped the news would not hinder the improved working relationship between Baghdad and the United Nations he fostered in his February trip to the Iraqi capital to resolve a crisis over the arms inspections.