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Bars Seized in Iraq Turn Out to Be Shell Casings, Not Gold

August 02, 2003|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Gold-colored bars seized by U.S. forces in Iraq appear to be melted-down shell casings made mostly of copper, not gold, the White House said in a report obtained Friday.

The U.S. military announced the discovery of truckloads of the bars in May. One truckload had been estimated to be worth as much as $500 million.

In a report to Congress detailing U.S. reconstruction efforts, the White House budget office said that 1,100 gold-colored bars were recovered in Iraq and that samples were taken to Kuwait for testing.

"Analysis of the initial sampling of ingots revealed they were [composed] of approximately 64% copper and 34% zinc. Consultation with metallurgists indicates the bars analyzed to date are most likely melted-down shell casings," the report said.

Most of the 40-pound bars were seized May 22 at Al Qaim on the Syrian border by soldiers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Central Command said a day after the finding.

Central Command said soldiers found the bars while conducting "a routine traffic control search" of a truck.

The two occupants of the truck said at the time that they were told the bars were bronze.

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