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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN names members of panel probing substance at Iraq weapons inspection office

7 September 2007 The United Nations today announced the members of a fact-finding panel tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the recent discovery of a potentially hazardous substance at the New York office of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

Spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters that the panel will include Dr. Stefan Mogl, who previously led the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ laboratory and currently heads Chemistry at Switzerland’s SPIEZ national laboratory.

Dr. Susan Brown, Director of the High Performance Computing Outreach Center at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, will also serve on the panel. Ms. Brown is a chemical engineering and energy technology expert who served in Iraq with the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) – UNMOVIC’s predecessor – in the 1990s. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, David Veness, will also serve on the panel, the spokesperson said.

“The panel, which will act under the direction of Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, is expected to meet for the first time next week. It will be tasked with ascertaining the circumstances under which the substances in question were brought to UN Headquarters, the reasons why the items were discovered only recently, and safety procedures in place and the extent to which they were followed.”

The panel is expected to deliver a report to the Secretary-General by the end of October.

The materials came to light last month when UNMOVIC staff discovered two small plastic packages with metal and glass containers, ranging in size from small vials to tubes the length of a pen holding liquid substances, while they were archiving their offices a few blocks from UN Headquarters as the Commission winds down after the Security Council terminated its mandate in June.

The substances have since been handed over to United States authorities.

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