BONN, Germany -- The Spiegel news magazine said Sunday United Nations inspectors discovered a major chemical weapons installation in Iraq that was set up largely by German firms.
The weekly said a document which the U.N. has not released shows the German firms played a major part in building the Muthana State Establishment, a complex for the manufacture, testing and stocking of poison gas.
It said the installations were situated about 50 miles northwest of Baghdad.
U.N. investigators nicknamed one of the main roads in the complex 'Sauerkraut Boulevard', reflecting the strong involvement of German firms in the project, Spiegel said.
The report said the plant was designed for the production of Nerve Gas VX, Soman, Sarin and mustard gas as well as chemical missile heads.
A German engineer, Fritz-Willi Doerflein, who worked at the site in 1983 said workers there knew exactly what purpose the installation served. He said that when he asked a worker what was being produced the answer was 'products against pests -- bugs, fleas, grasshoppers, Persians, Israelis.'
In recent years, Bonn authorities have been embarassed by a string of claims that German firms circumvented export legislation and played a key role in setting up biological, chemical and nuclear weapons plants in potential crisis areas, including Libya and Iraq.
Later this month 10 German industrialists are due to appear in court to answer charges they played a major role in helping Iraq set up its chemical weapons arsenal.