NEW YORK — Tests of the artillery shell that detonated in Iraq on Saturday have confirmed that it did in fact contain an estimated three or four liters of the deadly sarin nerve agent, Defense officials told Fox News Tuesday.
The artillery shell was left as a roadside bomb, the U.S. military said Monday. Two U.S. soldiers were treated for minor exposure to the nerve agent when the 155-mm shell exploded before it could be rendered inoperable. Three liters is about three-quarters of a gallon; four liters is roughly a gallon.
The soldiers displayed “classic” symptoms of sarin exposure — most notably dilated pupils and nausea, officials said. The symptoms ran their course fairly quickly, however, and as of Tuesday, the two had returned to duty.
The artillery found was a binary version of a chemical shell, meaning it featured two chambers, each containing separate chemical compounds. With impact, the barrier between the chamber is broken, the chemicals mix and the sarin compound is created and dispersed.