IAEA says looted Iraqi uranium poses no proliferation threat

A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sent to Iraq for an on-site inspection last month, estimates that at least 10 kilograms of uranium compounds could have been dispersed when looters emptied and stole containers from the Location C Material Storage Facility at Tuwaitha, according to a report prepared by Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. The report, submitted this week to the Security Council, says a few grams of natural uranium compound could have remained in each of the approximately 200 emptied containers when upended by the looters during or shortly after the war in April, in the form of dust on the container walls or as material adhering to the bottom of folds. “The quantity and type of uranium compounds dispersed are not sensitive from a proliferation point of view,” the report adds. It says Mr. ElBaradei will request the United States-run Provisional Authority in Iraq “to make every effort to recover” the dispersed material and to ensure the “the physical protection and security of the entire nuclear material inventory” at other locations in Iraq where material subject to IAEA safeguards is stored. The Tuwaitha site, which has been under IAEA seal and regularly inspected since 1991, held about 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and some 500 tons of natural and depleted uranium. The agency is responsible for safeguards and verification under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iraq is a signatory.

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