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Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
Nerve gas found at US base
US soldiers
Hundreds of US troops are stationed at the base
Traces of deadly nerve agents and mustard gas have been found in three areas of an American base in Uzbekistan.

All troops have been moved away from the sites at the Karshi Khanabad base, but no symptoms of exposure to the nerve agents have been reported.

Officials say the traces may have come from chemical weapons believed to have been stored there when it was a Soviet base.


The central concern now is to identify possible hazard to US troops

US spokesman Major Chett Kemp

Hundreds of US military personnel are currently stationed at the base.

A team of experts conducting a routine inspection detected three contaminated sites

  • in a bunker at the edge of the base
  • in a hangar where a headquarters had been set up
  • in an unstaffed maintenance facility
A health inspection late last year found nothing, but this week when inspectors returned Uzbek officials told them that chemical weapons had once been stored there, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Military officials said that there was no evidence of the contamination occurring recently.

Warm weather

One theory is that warm weather could be to blame as heat causes contaminated substances spilled onto the ground to give off new vapours.

It was also possible that chemical weapons were buried under the site and were now leaking, a military official said.

Further tests are currently being conducted to determine the origin of the traces and how much there is.

Bases in Afghanistan are also being tested for possible biological or chemical contamination.

Karshi Khanabad was one of the main bases used by US troops during the war in Afghanistan, with up to 5,000 troops based there at one point.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"There could be an underground stash that is now leaking"
See also:

25 Apr 02 | Country profiles
01 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
02 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
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