WASHINGTON, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The United States kept secret the information about the chemical weapons discoveries in Iraq in order to secure the findings from being obtained by hostile forces before their elimination, the spokesperson for the US Defense Department told RIA Novosti.
"There were some delays in reporting, which were addressed internally in early 2007 to expedite reporting after that date," the spokesperson said on Wednesday. "In certain situations, detailed information was restricted for a short period of time, in order to provide forces on the ground time to safeguard and eliminate these items, which prevented hostile forces from acquiring them," he added.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that from 2004 to 2011, the US military and Iraqi troops found around 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs in Iraq, created during the rule of former president Saddam Hussein in collaboration with the West.
"All 4,530 chemical munitions, recovered by the US in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, were destroyed, rendering them no longer effective as military weapons," a defense department spokesperson said.
Officials of the US government, coalition allies, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat, were informed of all chemical munition discoveries as soon as the safety and security situation in Iraq permitted, the spokesperson added.
In 2003, a US-led coalition invaded Iraq and deposed the government of Saddam Hussein. The coalition mission was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, but two years later the Central Intelligence Agency released a report, saying that no such weapons had been found in the country. In 2006, Saddam was convicted of charges related to the 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shiites and executed.