A published report says the United States has identified sites in Afghanistan suspected of having links to Osama bin Laden's efforts to acquire and produce chemical and biological weapons.
The New York Times says (in its Sunday edition) U-S warplanes have not bombed any of the sites, even though one may have already been used by the al-Qaida network to produce cyanide gas.
The newspaper describes the site as "a crude chemical-weapons research laboratory" located in a small village, Derunta, near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
It says possible cyanide production is the strongest indication yet of al-Qaida's ability to develop chemical weapons, bolstering suspicions that Osama bin Laden's network is eager to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
However, the report also says that although cyanide gas is deadly, it would be difficult to make it into a large-scale weapon, because the gas is difficult to transport and would dissipate rapidly in an open space.
The New York Times identifies other potential weapons sites, including a fertilizer plant in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, now captured by the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance, and an anthrax-vaccine site in the capital, Kabul.
The report says that the International Red Cross was believed to have been operating the Kabul site to provide anthrax vaccine to Afghan livestock, but that now it may be in the hands of the Taleban.
Anthrax-tainted letters have resulted in four deaths and have caused widespread anxiety about bio-terrorism in the United States.