United Nations: The pharmaceutical factory which was recently bombed by the US Tomahawk cruise missiles Aug. 20 had been approved to supply veterinary medicine to Iraq an United Nations Spokesman said on Thursday.
The plant offered a line of 87 products, 12 of them for veterinary use, including Shifazole, an antibiotic that treats parasites in animals. Its main products were the antibiotic Amoxycilin used to treat malaria, tuberculosis and ulcers, and the pain reliever Paracetamol.
A committee of the Security Council monitoring Iraq's imports had approved a contract from Sudan a request for approval of a contract between the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Company of Khartoum and the Ministry of Agriculture of Iraq. The contract, valued at $199,000, was for the supply of 100,000 one-litre containers of a veterinary pharmaceutical called Shifazole.
Spokesman Eric Falt told reporters in Baghdad that in December 1997 the request went through the Security Council committee which was established in 1990 to monitor the sanctions against Iraq. The 15-member committee approves all of the country's contracts for humanitarian supplies. The contract for the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Company was approved this January.
According to the Spokesman, Sudan requested, and received, a six- month extension for the contract on 7 July. "It is not unusual for extensions to be requested and granted for delivery later than originally envisaged," Mr. Falt noted. He added that there was no record of the shipment arriving in Iraq by Lloyd's Agents stationed at entry points into Iraq.
The shipment was to be sent to Iraq by October, said Alamaddin Al Shibli, the factory's export manager. The company began exporting medicine this year to nearby Yemen and was scheduled to send a shipment of veterinary medicine to Chad by month's end, he said. At least 20 Sudanese civilians were killed by the surprise attack.
British engineer Tom Carnaffin of Hexham, northern England, who helped build and equip the Khartoum facility destroyed by U.S. missiles. "I have intimate knowledge of that factory and it just does not lend itself to the manufacture of chemical weapons," he told reporters. "You need things like airlocks but this factory just has doors leading out onto the street."
Jordanian engineers who oversaw Al-Shifa's production told reporters a similar story at a press conference in Amman on Aug. 22. "The factory was designed to produce medicine and it would be impossible to convert it to make anything else," said Mohammed Abul Waheed.
Engineer Ahmed Salem said the complex had no links to Osama bin Laden,
a Saudi the U.S. has blamed for masterminding the embassy bombings. "Osama
bin Laden has no relation to this matter, whether financial, organizational,
administrative or anything," said Salem.