Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | June 06, 2003

UN team arrives in Iraq

UN nuclear team checks Iraq looting

The US has severely limited the scope of the team's mission
United Nations nuclear experts have begun to investigate the looting of material from Iraq's main nuclear facility after the war.

The team of seven from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will spend two weeks at the Tuwaitha complex, 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Baghdad, determining what is missing, dealing with what is left and making it safe



The UN experts at Tuwaitha are being blocked from investigating the reports of contamination and sickness by the United States, which argues that as the occupying power it is responsible for the health of the Iraqi people.

The number of inspectors has been limited by the Pentagon to seven, and their assessment has to be completed in two weeks.

Local people have been using barrels that held highly radioactive material to store food or wash clothes and some have complained of subsequent health problems, such as nose bleeds and vomiting.

The inspectors were allowed in after the IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, said a radiological emergency could be brewing at the plant after looters left behind piles of uranium and spilled radioactive materials.

Local people say looters were not after the uranium itself. They tipped it onto the ground so they could take away the containers to store food and water, the BBC's Caroline Hawley reports from Baghdad.

Workers living on the site, worried about being contaminated themselves, buried the spilled uranium in cement and made a desperate appeal to visiting journalists for international help, our correspondent adds.

So, what exactly are we hiding? Using the barrels for water and food? Why wasn't this secured immediately after Saddam went into hiding? They dumped the uranium on the ground. Gee, I hope no terrorists walked in and stole enough material for a dirty bomb.

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 06, 2003 10:05 AM | Comments (80)


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