Workers found vials believed to contain the poison gas phosgene at a U.N. office building in New York Thursday.
U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said U.N. chemical weapons experts quickly secured the toxic material.
U.N. archivists for UNMOVIC, the U.N. chemical weapons agency, unexpectedly turned up samples of material from an Iraqi chemical weapons plant in old files.
The samples were in weapons inspectors' files dating back to the 1990s, but the substance is not believed to pose any immediate danger, U.N. officials said Thursday.
The building where the samples turned up is several blocks away from main U.N. Secretariat building along New York's East River. Tests found no toxic vapors in the offices, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. [..]
The material was taken from al-Muthanna chemical weapons plant north of Baghdad. The samples are sealed and have been there since 1996.
The samples were in containers that ranged in size "from small vials to tubes the length of a pen," Okabe said.
Ewan Buchanan, a spokesman for UNMOVIC, said the substances are in a sealed metal box and wrapped in a plastic bag, "so there is no immediate danger."