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August 30, 2007

Minor Potentially Deadly Gas (Phosgene) Scare At UN; Situation Appears Safe and Unrelated To Terrorism

The vials of the choking agent seem to have come from Iraq at some point, but likely well before the 2003 invasion.

United Nations weapons inspectors discovered six to eight vials of a dangerous nerve gas, phosgene, as they were cleaning out offices at a U.N. building in New York this morning, federal authorities tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

The federal authorities said the office, in a U.N. building near headquarters, was being evacuated and the White House had been notified at 10 a.m.

New York police and fire officials said federal authorities had not notified them of any problem at the U.N. building, as of 11 a.m.

A U.N. spokesperson said a statement would be issued shortly.

Authorities said the phosgene was believed to have been discovered in Iraq and manufactured prior to 1991.

Former U.N. weapons inspectors told ABCNews.com that vials of phosgene had also been used by inspectors in Iraq to help calibrate air sampling instruments.

The former inspectors said the remaining vials were supposed to have been destroyed.

This Wikipedia article seems to dispute that phosgene is a nerve gas, specifically noting that phosgene is less dangerous than nerve agents, so The Deciders may have that one wrong. There are some nerve agents that work by choking, I imagine, shutting off the passive nerve response that controls breathing, but this article seems to say it's not one of those and just attacks throat and lung tissue by causing the production of hydrochloric acid in the body's tissues.

Update: The vials were brought to the UN from Iraq in 1996, FoxNews just said.


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posted by Ace at 01:04 PM

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