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Iraqi Nuclear Threat

BOBDN

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May 21, 2002
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The nuclear material at the site in the report below had been secured by the International Nuclear Energy Commission....
until the US invasion of Iraq.

With full knowledge of the nuclear material stored at this site the US promised to secure the material during the invasion and failed to do so. Now nuclear material has been looted and its whereabouts are unknown.

Bush declared Iraq possessed WMD and was an imminent threat to the US and the world as an excuse for his invasion. No WMD has been found in Iraq, however due to the carelessness of the US forces the material looted from these sites can now be used to create it.

Barrels Looted at Nuclear Site Raise Fears for Iraqi Villagers
By PATRICK E. TYLER


TUWAITHA, Iraq, June 7 ? For Iptisam Nuri, a mother of five who was sick with typhoid, the arrival of the barrels in her home at first seemed a godsend.

When the electricity went out during the war, the water-pumping station that serves this area 30 miles southeast of Baghdad shut down, and people were thirsty. That is when men from a village near here broke through the fence guarding "Location C" at Saddam Hussein's nuclear complex.

"We had to find something to bring water," said one of the men, Idris Saddoun, 23.

They say they broke into the warehouse, emptied hundreds of barrels of their yellow and brown mud, took them to the wells and canals and filled them with water for cooking, bathing and drinking.

For nearly three weeks, hundreds of villagers who live in the shadow of the high earthen berm and barbed wire fences that surrounded the labyrinth of the Iraqi nuclear program here bathed in and ingested water laced with radioactive contaminants from the barrels.

The barrels, Iraqi and foreign experts say, had held uranium ores, low-enriched uranium "yellowcake," nuclear sludge and other byproducts of Mr. Hussein's nuclear research.

Some villagers fell ill with nausea. Others developed rashes that made them itch.

Although no qualified medical experts have examined them, some contracted ailments that they now attribute to radioactive contamination. It may take years to determine the health effects from the radiation poisoning that occurred here before American military forces arrived to seal off this nuclear complex.

Questions have been raised by international inspectors about why, despite Washington's assurances that allied forces had secured this facility, an army of looters roamed here freely for days, ransacking vaults and warehouses that contained ample radioactive poisons that could be used to manufacture an inestimable quantity of so-called dirty bombs.

Tuwaitha has been the most conspicuous element of Iraq's nuclear research program since the program's inception in the 1970's. Twenty-two years ago today, Israeli warplanes bombed its main plutonium production reactor after Menachem Begin, then Israel's prime minister, became convinced that Mr. Hussein was determined to produce nuclear weapons.

Today, the first inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived here to look into the loss of control over Iraq's nuclear program that occurred when allied forces bypassed this complex during their drive on Baghdad.

Under restrictions imposed by the American and British occupation authority, the inspectors will not be allowed to survey the levels of contamination in villages like this one, where survival instincts drove the residents into a compound where radiological dangers awaited them.

"We have been disturbed about reports of looting and that these barrels that contained natural and low-enriched uranium have been looted," Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the atomic agency in Vienna, told the British Broadcasting Corporation. "We are going to find out what's missing, to see if we can repackage and secure the material, so that we can account for every gram of it."

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the atomic agency, first expressed concern about security at Tuwaitha on April 10, the day after Baghdad fell and widespread looting broke out in the capital.

This week, senior American defense officials said that when United States marines reached the Tuwaitha nuclear complex, on April 7, they found that looting was rampant. Since then, they said, military forces have provided continuous security.

Army officials who checked the site soon after the marines arrived encountered high radiation levels in the storage buildings and withdrew.

Ever since, atomic agency officials have pressed for access to the site, and American officials have resisted, arguing that the mandate of the agency in Iraq had expired and that allied forces were in charge.

Yet continuing reports of lax security here and the discovery that villagers were bathing from contaminated barrels from uranium storage facilities appear to have prompted American officials to relent and allow narrowly defined access for international inspectors, who examined and sealed this facility more than a decade ago.


A team of agency inspectors arrived in the Iraqi capital on Friday. Instead of billeting in their old headquarters at the Canal Hotel, they were closeted behind American military guards at the Rashid Hotel, which is off limits to visitors.

When the inspectors arrived here today, they were escorted by a small column of American troops in Humvee transports.

They apparently went straight to "Location C," the warehouse compound on the southern boundary of the nuclear complex where uranium ores, yellowcake and low-level waste were stored.

American troops at the complex would not allow reporters to accompany the inspectors or follow them to the warehouses.

Local villagers said that what they were sure to find were piles of uranium dumped from barrels on the floor of the warehouse, where looters tracked the radioactive material back to their homes, adding to the contamination that came from using the barrels as water containers.

Today, a 14-year-old villager named Haider Raheen led a visitor to a marsh adjoining the village where two of the uranium barrels lay discarded in the reeds. Close by was a white storage box that may have contained some of the more dangerous radio-isotopes that were believed to have been stored in the warehouse. They are thought to have included cobalt, cesium and strontium, all potentially lethal if ingested.

More than 500 tons of natural uranium and 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium were stored at Tuwaitha, international inspectors have said.


"We were trapped by these barrels," said Ms. Nuri, 34. "After we bathed from them, drank from them and cooked in them, we didn't know what to do."

American soldiers came about 20 days later and offered villagers $3 each for the barrels and recovered more than 100 of them, officials said, but a complete inventory of what is missing as well as the health and security ramifications of loose radioactive material will await the full assessment of the inspectors, who started their work today.

An Army radiological team swept through these villages last month, carrying radiation monitors into brick houses, including Ms. Nuri's. She said she heard a lot of beeping when the monitors were placed near the floor.

But no one checked her five children, and she is now wondering why so many journalists keep coming to this village, named Al Mansiya, which means, "The Forgotten," but not doctors or aid workers to help the residents, whose food rations are almost exhausted.

It makes her think about Mr. Hussein.

"We are like a string of beads that has been cut, and all the beads are on the floor," she said. "We love the Americans, but we loved Saddam because he was our father. He was the tent over us ? he was the string in our beads."


 

BOBDN

Banned
May 21, 2002
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Hard to see a second side to invading a country to find non-existent WMD only to allow previously secured nuclear material to be looted.
 

Lucky

Lifer
Nov 26, 2000
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Its a bad piece of reporting , and it's slanted, that's what I mean. However, it's quite interesting as long as you know that...and that the article is from the NYT.
 

JellyBaby

Diamond Member
Apr 21, 2000
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BOBDN, got link? I'd like to read any follow-ups.

Lucky, how is it slanted and why is it a bad piece of reporting?
 

Lucky

Lifer
Nov 26, 2000
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Originally posted by: Bowfinger
BOBDN: when you post an article, you should credit the source and include a link. As Lucky mentions, it is from the New York Times:

Barrels Looted at Nuclear Site Raise Fears for Iraqi Villagers

Lucky: I don't see that this article is significantly slanted. It reports with some detail an unpleasant truth that reflects poorly on the U.S. That doesn't make it slanted.

Well for one thing there is extensive quote sourcing from the inspectors, yet not a single one from an American political or military official. Plenty of emotional appeals and detailed and colorful stories from one side, but none from the other. Of course I'm not saying what happened is not true, I'm sure much of it is and if so its pretty terrible that this is happening. But an objective report would have included more than just paraphrasing in one or two sentences what they said.

Second, I find it lacking in providing a credible timeline. From when the power when out , to when security was needed, to when it was secured. He's written great stuff in the past would not call him biased politically per se (he wrote a scathing passage on the clinton/china relationship in one of his books), but I just see this particular article a bit lacking. He is known to be against the war, even writing front page "news analysis" (read: editorial) saying "the huge anti-war demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion." In fact he is IMO the most blatant of the reporters at the Times in their slanted coverage on this war. If not slanted in the individual articles, slanted in their overall coverage which is quite obviously anti-war.

As I read on one site pertaining to his coverage...

The American people need both the convenient and the inconvenient truths about Iraq from their newspapers, but it turns out there are powerful forces standing in their way! ...
 

zephyrprime

Diamond Member
Feb 18, 2001
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What idiots. Stealing barrels from a NUCLEAR facility that were filled with "sludge".
 

Lucky

Lifer
Nov 26, 2000
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Originally posted by: zephyrprime
What idiots. Stealing barrels from a NUCLEAR facility that were filled with "sludge".
yeah...that was my first thought but I abstained from posting it for fear of being roasted alive. :D
 

Lucky

Lifer
Nov 26, 2000
13,126
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Originally posted by: zephyrprime
What idiots. Stealing barrels from a NUCLEAR facility that were filled with "sludge".
yeah...that was my first thought but I abstained from posting it for fear of being roasted alive. :D
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
9,993
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Can you imagine what would have occured had we thought saddam was there and dropped a MOAB on the place.. or if Saddam hid the junk where he figured we would bomb... that would have been disaster... good grief! we did bomb places that we now say he probably hid stuff in vast underground places... exactly where we used our good old penetrator bombs to destroy the place... I wonder..
 

KenGr

Senior member
Aug 22, 2002
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OK, as someone with a long background in nuclear science, I will say that this article makes no sense at all. The materials predominantly mentioned - Uranium ore, Yellowcake and low level waste - are relatively harmless and could never cause the type of immediate effects described in the article. In a very conservative view, one could predict that exposure to these might result in an increase in the rate of cancer in 10 to 20 years, but not the irritation and nausea described.

The article supposes there may have been sources like Cesium or Cobalt (these are used for industrial measurements) but these are solid encased materials and would not be expected to be spread or ingested. One might expect that burns or radiation poisoning would affect a few people, but these materials, when uncontrolled, have caused severe illness to a small number of people, not minor illness to a large number of people.

I'm sure we'll see followups in the future on this, but, as reported, my impression is that it's BS.

 

BOBDN

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May 21, 2002
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Originally posted by: KenGr
OK, as someone with a long background in nuclear science, I will say that this article makes no sense at all. The materials predominantly mentioned - Uranium ore, Yellowcake and low level waste - are relatively harmless and could never cause the type of immediate effects described in the article. In a very conservative view, one could predict that exposure to these might result in an increase in the rate of cancer in 10 to 20 years, but not the irritation and nausea described.

The article supposes there may have been sources like Cesium or Cobalt (these are used for industrial measurements) but these are solid encased materials and would not be expected to be spread or ingested. One might expect that burns or radiation poisoning would affect a few people, but these materials, when uncontrolled, have caused severe illness to a small number of people, not minor illness to a large number of people.

I'm sure we'll see followups in the future on this, but, as reported, my impression is that it's BS.
If radioactive waste isn't all that dangerous why not spread some around? Can't hurt anyone now.

One standard for the USA and another for the rest of the world. If, as was predicted before this invasion, terrorists have their hands on some of these materials I'm sure you'll all be changing your tune.
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
9,993
1
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Originally posted by: KenGr
OK, as someone with a long background in nuclear science, I will say that this article makes no sense at all. The materials predominantly mentioned - Uranium ore, Yellowcake and low level waste - are relatively harmless and could never cause the type of immediate effects described in the article. In a very conservative view, one could predict that exposure to these might result in an increase in the rate of cancer in 10 to 20 years, but not the irritation and nausea described.

The article supposes there may have been sources like Cesium or Cobalt (these are used for industrial measurements) but these are solid encased materials and would not be expected to be spread or ingested. One might expect that burns or radiation poisoning would affect a few people, but these materials, when uncontrolled, have caused severe illness to a small number of people, not minor illness to a large number of people.

I'm sure we'll see followups in the future on this, but, as reported, my impression is that it's BS.
Ken,
Perhaps, but if the folks have the health issues described the health issues are objectively testable and they are visable. So if they didn't get them from the sources indicated they got them somehow. No? How did they get them if not from the indicated sources or is the debate that they don't have what they seem to have?

 

Lucky

Lifer
Nov 26, 2000
13,126
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Ken,
Perhaps, but if the folks have the health issues described the health issues are objectively testable and they are visable. So if they didn't get them from the sources indicated they got them somehow. No? How did they get them if not from the indicated sources or is the debate that they don't have what they seem to have?


To me that's part of the problem with the article. The sources are all one-sided and there isn't much to corroborate the story, further compounded by a sketchy timeline of when everything happened.

Of course I dont think this is all made up, its just very incomplete.
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
9,993
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Originally posted by: Lucky
Ken,
Perhaps, but if the folks have the health issues described the health issues are objectively testable and they are visable. So if they didn't get them from the sources indicated they got them somehow. No? How did they get them if not from the indicated sources or is the debate that they don't have what they seem to have?


To me that's part of the problem with the article. The sources are all one-sided and there isn't much to corroborate the story, further compounded by a sketchy timeline of when everything happened.

Of course I dont think this is all made up, its just very incomplete.
I think objective evidence as to the health issue ought to be the first step. Then the nexus to the source of the health issue may be shown. But, as Kengr say's, it wouldn't be from the stuff mentioned. Ergo, the nexus would not exist to the stuff mentioned but, to something somewhere and that would be what I'd be after.. missing or buried nuke stuff. But, we have no objective evidence to the health issue that I can find anywhere... what is the cause?

 

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