Skip to comments.Marines hold nuclear site
Posted on 04/09/2003 10:29:29 AM PDT by DittoEdited on 04/13/2004 2:02:56 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
click here to read article
1 score = 20
Well shoot, I should have known that. Thanks!
It's possible that these readings are due to Iraqi incompetence, not the development of an illegal weapons program. I'm sure the French reactors are normally very safe. But I question the ability of the Iraqis to keep them that way. Put it this way: if you were operating a secret weapons lab, would you intentionally have so much dangerous leakage that you could not even enter parts of the facility? Why make your own facility unihabitable?
Scorched earth? Or to make it difficult for us to inspect.
Fox News has finally picked this up, talking about it right now!
I would love if this turned out to be a true smoking gun site, because that would put the nail in the coffin of everyone who argued against intervention. But I'm a bit puzzled as to why the story really hasn't been picked up more. Let's face it -- an illegal nuclear site would be huge -- far bigger than discovery chemical weapons. But it seems to get little attention. A "cover-up" doesn't make much sense to me because they site has been identified and will be investigated. If it really is a smoking gun, that will be confirmed at some point no matter how much some media outlets might like to cover it up. And then, it will be impossible to bury the story.
The most logical explanation is that "people in the know" really don't believe that this site is a smoking gun. Or at the least, they think there is considerable doubt, and think that more confirmation is required.
Days after the site was overrun by Marines, U.S. military commanders said yesterday they have imposed heightened security and safety measures at a nuclear complex where the Iraqi government warehoused radioactive material.
Iraqi forces abandoned the Tuwaitha nuclear site over the weekend, prompting fears among nuclear experts that the facility might be plundered, or that arriving U.S. troops or Iraqi civilians might be exposed to potentially dangerous doses of radiation.
The site, about 15 miles south of Baghdad, is Iraq's only internationally sanctioned repository for nuclear material. Since the early 1990s, large quantities of uranium and dozens of radioactive devices used in medicine and research have been stored at the site in warehouses that are sealed and monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
Marines who have held the facility since Sunday have entered some of the complex's bunkers and recorded high levels of radiation inside, according to reports from embedded journalists. The accounts fueled speculation initially that the troops had discovered a secret nuclear weapons laboratory.
Among U.S. and international nuclear experts familiar with the site, the reports raised concerns that the IAEA's seals may have broken, leaving the nuclear material vulnerable and Iraqis and U.S. troops in danger of radioactive contamination.
"There is a risk to troops who might enter these secure areas, and there's a risk of looting that could allow the material to be spread around," said one nuclear expert close to the IAEA's Iraq inspection team.
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Qatar said coalition forces were familiar with the materials stored at Tuwaitha and had taken steps to protect troops and guard against theft.
Built in the 1960s, Tuwaitha was the birthplace of Iraq's previous nuclear weapons program and the site of a French-built nuclear reactor that was destroyed in an Israeli bombing in 1981. All of Iraq's known stocks of weapons-grade uranium were removed following the 1991 Gulf War, but Iraq was allowed to keep about 1.7 tons of low-enriched uranium and nearly 500 tons of natural uranium at Tuwaitha under IAEA safeguards. Low-enriched uranium is not immediately useable for a weapon but could be valuable to anyone trying to build one.
The site also served as a repository for about 150 pieces of radioactive equipment that Iraq was permitted to keep for medical or industrial applications. Some of the devices contain high levels of radiation and could be potentially used in a "dirty bomb," said David Albright, a former IAEA inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
"This might be a good opportunity for [coalition forces] to take this stuff out now," he said. "Why leave it for the next Iraqi government to deal with?"
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.