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Thursday December 13 2:07 AM ET

Army Working on Weapons-Grade Anthrax, Report Says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Army biological and chemical warfare facility in Utah has been quietly developing weapons-grade anthrax spores since at least 1992, and has shipped samples of the bacteria to Fort Detrick, Maryland, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Citing government officials and shipping records, the newspaper said samples were shipped back and forth between the two facilities several times over the past several years.

The Utah spores were grown and processed at the Dugway Proving Ground about 80 miles from Salt Lake City, the newspaper said.

According to the report, the Utah spores belong to the Ames strain -- the same strain used in the deadly anthrax-laced letters that killed five people in Florida, Connecticut, New York and Washington.

No other nation is known to have made weapons-grade Ames anthrax, the report said.

Army officials told the Post all the anthrax they have made has been accounted for and that they are cooperating with the FBI (news - web sites) in its investigation of the anthrax attacks in September and October.

The FBI would not comment on the Dugway program, the newspaper said.

The most recent shipment of the deadly spores to Fort Detrick left Dugway Proving Ground on June 27 and shipped back to Dugway on Sept. 4, less than a month before the spate of U.S. bioterrorism attacks began, the newspaper said, citing shipping records and interviews with officials.

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