United Nations staff members discovered some forgotten vials of chemicals when they were archiving files from U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors who had been in Iraq, according to a U.N. news release.
They found two small, plastic packages with vials of unknown liquid substances that inspectors collected from Al Muthanna, a former Iraqi chemical weapons facility, in 1996. An inventory of the vials showed the substances included an agent that could be used in chemical warfare.
The news release said the discovery was made Aug. 24 at the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) offices at 866 East 48th Street in New York.
A U.N. spokeswoman said one of the substances, phosgene suspended in oil, was identified on Wednesday. Phosgene can be used as a chemical warfare agent.
UNMOVIC weapons experts sealed the packages and tested the room where the vials were found with a portable chemical detector.
There were no toxic vapors in the air, according to the U.N. news release.
The U.N. release said the packages have been secured and pose no danger to the public.