PAST the snack bar with the hanging sign in the shape of a hamburger, around the corner from a local coffee shop and next to a dilapidated block of flats is an unobtrusive factory building that promises to put the town of Sabac on the military map.
The building, smack in the heart of Serbia, belongs to the Elektron company of Sabac, the only one in the world officially licensed to produce the deadliest weapon ever known: the elipton.
The elipton is supposedly Russia's top 'top secret' weapon. Its existence is flaunted by its greatest (and only) proponent, the Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. During his recent visit to Serbia, Mr Zhirinovsky not only reportedly tested a 'very, very small' elipton against a Bosnian Muslim unit ('12 Muslim soldiers died') but also left a bigger elipton behind. He gave it to the Serbs with strict instructions that it only be used in case of dire emergency, such as Nato air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs.
Yesterday, the Serbian politician entrusted with the weapon, the suspected war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, warned the West that if it did not stop threatening to bomb the Serbs he would have no choice but to unleash the beast.
This highly dubious armament is, depending on the day it is being described, either a sonic or electronic device which fuses neutrons and protons with fatal results. 'The world has no idea of the real power of this weapon,' Mr Zhirinovsky's deputy, Alexei Vidnenkin, told a Belgrade press conference recently. 'It can kill people in a matter of hours and those killed do not know what they died from.'
It is hard to believe that the Elektron factory, with its peeling paint and rooms stacked high with old rags and books, will soon be humming with the production of a deadly weapon. But Tomislav Simic, the owner of Elektron and an official in Mr Arkan's Party
of Serbian Unity, said last week that production was scheduled for mid-1995.
Yesterday at the Elektron baby- clothes boutique, just around the corner from the factory, an assistant said that Mr Simic was unavailable for comment. However, she was more than happy to confirm, as she folded infant clothing, that the Elektron company which owned the baby shop would soon be making weapons.
Others in town were not quite so ready to believe that Sabac was on the verge of military fame. 'The workers at Elektron don't seem to be highly qualified if you ask me,' said Gordana, who works at the local coffee shop. 'As far as I know their main job is selling wine stolen from Croatia.'
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