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Iraqi NUCLEAR sites were ALSO LOOTED due to Bush incompetence

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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 09:53 AM
Original message
Iraqi NUCLEAR sites were ALSO LOOTED due to Bush incompetence

In all this spin about when the explosives disappeared, it's important to remember that Al Qaqaa is not the only site that was looted subsequent to the American invasion. Remember Tuwaitha? Same deal, different site.

Nuclear watchdog fears terrorist dirty bomb after looting at al-Tuwaitha
Wednesday May 14, 2003

United Nations nuclear inspectors, barred from Iraq by Washington, are increasingly worried that the widespread looting and ransacking of Iraq's nuclear facilities may result in terrorists building a radioactive "dirty bomb". The inspectors' concerns are shared internationally and the British government has reportedly offered to raise the matter with Washington to try to get agreement on a return of the UN nuclear inspectors to Iraq.

The main worry revolves around the fate of at least 200 radioactive isotopes which were stored at the sprawling al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex, 15 miles south of Baghdad. It has seen widespread looting, and reports from Baghdad speak of locals making off with barrels of raw uranium and the isotopes which are meant for medical or industrial use.

"If this happened anywhere else there would be national outrage and it would be the highest priority," said a senior source at the UN nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The radioactive sources, some very potent ones, could get on to the black market and into the hands of terrorists planning dirty-bomb attacks," said Melissa Fleming, an IAEA spokeswoman.

<snip> Experts are muttering that the US, as the occupying power in Iraq, is now technically in breach of the non-proliferation treaty. There is a fear that the occupation, ostensibly to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, could result in more such weapons being created. <more>

with Andre Titarenko
Iraq Nuclear Sites Looting
Updated May 11, 2003

<snip> Chronologically the first reason to attack Iraq that was provided by the USA Administration was intelligence related to development of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by Saddam Hussein. Another reason was terrorism. There were changes of mind, but none of these reasons was ever dismissed completely. Being formerly involved with nuclear disarmament in another part of the world I had in my mind very clear picture of the USA Marines taking the control of whatever is left out there in the nuclear field after the bombing first hand, maybe even airlifted to do so. They certainly will be armed with detailed roadmaps, satellite pictures, floormaps and guidance, and will keep everyone away from known locations of fusion materials no matter what. Well

First reports about possible looting of nuclear materials in Iraq dates back to April 11, when an anonymous source told ABC that IAEA seals on the drums with Uranium at Al-Tuwaitha facility near Baghdad, were broken. Drums there contained about 1.8 tons of Uranium (not weapon-grade, but probably fine to build dirty bomb). There was a lot of highly active materials other than Uranium there too. The initial looters could be local ( looking to get at least something for their families and homes), but they sure knew what is hidden behind the fence of Al-Tuwaitha. It was bombed not once (for the first time in 1981), and they must have had a lot of word from mouth about deadly radiation out there, etc. Only a very brave or a very stupid local guy will go looting there. Even if this happens, a sealed drum with Uranium is not as attractive a looting object as armchair, TV or freezer for an "average guy". If someone targets it, and breaks the seal, most likely he knows perfectly well what he is looking for, and who is the likely buyer for it. If by chance someone has broken the seals on the drums out of stupid curiosity, by now he has probably put pieces together and is looking for a buyer for stolen Uranium.

<snip> Tuwaitha is not the only Iraq nuclear site. Some facilities are in and near Mosul, in the territory that was invaded by Kurds form Northern Iraq. Please bear in mind that the only operational Al-Qaeda training camp in Iraq existed on the territory controlled by Kurds in Northern Iraq, and Kurds were generally OK with neighborhood such as this. Kurds do cooperate with still sparce USA troops in the region, but so far there was no reports available about securing the al-Jazirah enrichment facility near Mosul.<more>

WMDs for the Taking?
While U.S. troops pushed on to Baghdad, Iraqis were looting radioactive materials from once protected sites

May 19 issue From the very start, one of the top U.S. priorities in Iraq has been the search for weapons of mass destruction. Werent WMDs supposed to be what the war was about? Even so, no one has yet produced conclusive evidence that Iraq was maintaining a nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) arsenal.

<snip> Some of the lapses are frightening. The well-known Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, about 12 miles south of Baghdad, had nearly two tons of partially enriched uranium, along with significant quantities of highly radioactive medical and industrial isotopes, when International Atomic Energy Agency officials made their last visit in January. By the time U.S. troops arrived in early April, armed guards were holding off lootersbut the Americans only disarmed the guards, Al Tuwaitha department heads told NEWSWEEK. We told them, This site is out of control. You have to take care of it, says Munther Ibrahim, Al Tuwaithas head of plasma physics. The soldiers said, We are a small group. We cannot take control of this site. As soon as the Americans left, looters broke in. The staff fled; when they returned, the containment vaults seals had been broken, and radioactive material was everywhere.

U.S. officers say the center had already been ransacked before their troops arrived. They didnt try to stop the looting, says Colonel Madere, because there was no directive that said do not allow anyone in and out of this place. Last week American troops finally went back to secure the site. Al Tuwaithas scientists still cant fully assess the damage; some areas are too badly contaminated to inspect. I saw empty uranium-oxide barrels lying around, and children playing with them, says Fadil Mohsen Abed, head of the medical-isotopes department. Stainless-steel uranium canisters had been stolen. Some were later found in local markets and in villagers homes. We saw people using them for milking cows and carrying drinking water, says Ibrahim. The looted materials could not make a nuclear bomb, but IAEA officials worry that terrorists could build plenty of dirty bombs with some of the isotopes that may have gone missing. Last week NEWSWEEK visited a total of eight sites on U.N. weapons-inspection lists. Two were guarded by U.S. troops. Armed looters were swarming through two others. Another was evidently destroyed many years ago. American forces had not yet searched the remaining three. <more>

U.S.: IAEA Team Could Inspect Iraqi Nuke Site
Wed May 21, 3:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States proposed a joint investigation with the International Atomic Energy Agency of Iraq (news - web sites)'s Tuwaitha nuclear research center after reports of looting and a mission could go in a week or so, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The Vienna-based IAEA earlier said Washington had offered a limited return of its inspectors to Iraq two months after they left on the eve of the U.S.-led war, but gave few details on the nature of the offer or the timing of a return.

"We are making arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct a joint inspection of the safeguarded storage area near Tuwaitha. Details and timing are not set yet but we're looking to do this as soon as arrangements can be made," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

Asked how quickly a team might go to Iraq, where the IAEA has said a nuclear contamination emergency may be developing because of the reports of looting at Tuwaitha, a senior U.S. official who asked not to be named said "maybe a week." <more>

May 21, 2003 at 6:47:39 PDT
U.S.: Barrels Missing From Iraq Nuke Site

Some 20 percent of the known radioactive materials stored at Iraq's largest nuclear facility are unaccounted for, and U.S. nuclear experts have found radioactive patches on the ground where looters dumped out barrels believed to contain hazardous materials.

However, a senior commander said the great majority of the dangerous waste at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex was still secure and was not leaking radiation.

<snip> The dormant Tuwaitha plant, once considered the heart of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program, has been repeatedly trashed by scavengers. It hasn't been operational for years. The Iraqis had been using it to store declared nuclear materials that were prohibited and sealed by the U.N. nuclear agency.

While the sprawling complex was considered one of the top sites where evidence of weapons of mass destruction might be found, it was left unguarded for days during the war. By the time weapons teams showed up to inspect the facility, so much had been destroyed that it was impossible to know what was missing.

<snip> The IAEA has been sharply critical of the U.S. handling of the site. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he would be willing to let members of the IAEA back into Iraq to assist them at nuclear sites. He couldn't say when or how the IAEA teams might work there, but said their previous knowledge and expertise would be welcome.

It was the first time U.S. officials have said the IAEA would be able to return to Iraq and was likely to be seen in the arms control community as an acknowledgment that the Americans need help. <more>

US dirty bomb fears after nuclear looting
Wednesday May 21, 2003

<snip> However, the apparent disappearance of radioactive material from Tuwaitha - the Iraqi nuclear research centre near Baghdad sealed by the UN after the last Gulf war - after looters ransacked its network of bunkers during and immediately after the recent war, has caused alarm at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Earlier this week, the agency's director, Mohammed El Baradei, said he was "deeply concerned" by the reports from Tuwaitha.

According to some of those reports, uranium was simply emptied on to the ground from metal containers, which were then taken for domestic use, such as milking cows.

IAEA officials are concerned that the uranium could fall into the hands of terrorists who could use it to build a so-called dirty bomb, whereby conventional explosives are used to scatter radioactive nuclear material.

The Pentagon had opposed the return of UN inspectors, believing that they would interfere with its own investigation, but Mr Rumsfeld indicated yesterday that that opposition had been dropped. <more>

July 18, 2003
Bush's actions don't match the rhetoric
Guest Column by Kirk Caraway

<snip> Turn back the clock to the before the war. You "know" your enemy has 100-500 tons of chemical weapons, and you know where he is likely hiding them. Wouldn't you try to secure those sites as quickly as possible? After all, these chemical weapons posed a major threat to our advancing troops, and the big danger, they said, was if these fall into the hands of terrorists.

So why wasn't this done? Special Forces teams were flown into Iraq to secure the oil fields, but not the weapons. That speaks volumes about what the real reason for the war is.

And those weapons are still missing. Rumsfeld claims they are doing their best to search all those sites, but this is disconcerting. How many days have his 150,000 soldiers had to search the sites they already know about?

And what about the nukes? If Bush and his people really thought that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program, why did the military wait for more than a week after taking over the region to even visit the country's main nuclear research facilities at Tuwaitha?

Why did they wait even longer to visit the neighboring Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility? Both sites were heavily looted, so if there were plans for a nuclear bomb or even some weapons-grade material, it would be long gone by now. <more>

July 17, 2003
Bush's Pre-emptive Strike Doctrine
The Bane of Non-Proliferation Watchdogs


<snip> Bush's use of the specter of nuclear threat to legitimate his intimidation policy can also been seen as just another excuse if reports from occupied post-war Iraq are taken into account. When the reports about massive looting in Iraq's biggest nuclear facility Al-Tuwaitha emerged after the war, the U.S. administration rejected the IAEA's request to send inspectors to that facility for more than a month. El-Baradei didn't even get an answer to his letters to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Meanwhile, strange things must have happened in Al-Tuwaitha: The IAEA in Vienna received several phone calls from U.S. soldiers based at the facility to secure it, who didn't know what to do with nuclear material they had found.<more>

U.N. in Dark About Looted Iraq Dirty Bomb Material
July 16
By Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog said Wednesday it had accounted for most of the low-grade uranium lost during looting at Iraq's main nuclear facility, but had no information about more dangerous radioactive material.

<snip> But an IAEA spokeswoman said the agency had not been permitted by U.S. occupation authorities to check the status of Tuwaitha's stocks of highly-radioactive cesium-137, cobalt-160 and other materials which could be used in dirty bombs.

"There were around 400 of these radioactive sources stored at Tuwaitha," IAEA's Melissa Fleming said.

Witnesses have said that villagers near Tuwaitha, especially children, have shown symptoms of radiation sickness.

"Any case of radiation sickness would probably be from these highly-radioactive sources, not from the low-grade natural uranium at Location C," Fleming said. <more>

Looting of Iraqi nuclear facility indicts U.S. goals
If we feared the loss of radioactive materials, why not guard them?

Knight Ridder Newspapers
Posted on Thu, Jun. 12, 2003

TUWAITHA, Iraq - On a dusty road, just outside of Baghdad, lies one of the great mysteries of the Iraq war.

<snip> The administration knew full well what was stored at Tuwaitha. So how is it possible that the U.S. military failed to secure the nuclear facility until weeks after the war started? This left looters free to ransack the barrels, dump their contents, and sell them to villagers for storage.

How is it possible that, according to Iraqi nuclear scientists, looters are still stealing radioactive isotopes?

The Tuwaitha story makes a mockery of the administration's vaunted concern with weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. military hastened to secure the Ministry of Oil in Baghdad from looters. But Iraq's main nuclear facility was apparently not important enough to get similar protection.

<snip> And why, in facilities other than Location C, is the looting apparently continuing?

Hisham Abdel Malik, a Iraqi nuclear scientist who lives near Tuwaitha and has been inside the complex, told me that in buildings "where there are radioactive isotopes, there is looting every day." He says the isotopes, which are in bright silver containers, "are sold in the black market or kept in homes." According to IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, such radioactive sources can kill on contact or pollute whole neighborhoods.

How could an administration that had hyped the danger of Saddam handing off nuclear materials to terrorists let Tuwaitha be looted? Maybe the hype was just hype ... or maybe the Pentagon didn't send enough troops to Iraq to do the job right.

Either answer is damning.<more>

Saddam's nuclear arsenal? A scattering of yellow powder
Villagers sell deadly uranium to the US army at $3 a barrel

Patrick Graham in Al Mansia
Sunday October 5, 2003
The Observer

Dhia Ali makes a throwing motion as he tells how he dumped out the blue barrels of powder. The nine-year-old and his brother, Hussein, weren't looking for weapons of mass destruction when they went into the low brown buildings, known to UN weapons inspectors as Location C, near his home last April. They just wanted the blue barrels.

The yellow cake powder they poured out and breathed into their lungs - a form of natural uranium - was part of the nuclear programme which, the Iraq Survey Group's recent report claims, somewhat vaguely, was being restarted before the last war. The report won't do much for Dhia or Hussein - they haven't even been examined by a doctor yet.

<snip> The report's claim that Iraq was revamping its nuclear programme in such a way that it could constitute any serious threat was described as 'ridiculous' by the scientist. By 1991, when the he left the programme, Iraq had succeeded in producing no more than one kilogram of enriched uranium - 6 to 14 kgs short of a bomb. By 1997, the programme had been exposed and most of its capabilities destroyed. <more>


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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Yup. Bush* was too busy protecting the oil wells... keep WMD out of the hands of the "evildoers."


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AnIndependentTexan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. this proves that they were
MSN NBC is sticking to the truth and the reporter isn't taking the GOP talking points on it. /

Reporter Lai Ling Jew, who was embedded with the Armys 101st Airborne, Second Brigade, said Tuesday on MSNBC TV that the news team stayed at the Al-Qaqaa base for about 24 hours.

No move to secure the weapons
There wasnt a search, she said. The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers headed off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around.

But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away.

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HEIL PRESIDENT GOD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
2. Wow, great post!
I nominated it.
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central scrutinizer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
3. yup, we are sure safer now that Saddam is behind bars
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Nordic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
4. oh but that story is sooooo 2003
and since we haven'tt been hit by a nuclear dirty bomb, Bush is doing something right. Right?

Just kidding. Great post.
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Self-fufilling prophecy?
Cheney: Cities facing nuclear terror threat

Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday raised the possibility of terrorists bombing U.S. cities with nuclear weapons and questioned whether Sen. John Kerry could combat such an "ultimate threat . . . you've got to get your mind around."

"The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us - biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans," Cheney said in Carroll, Ohio.

"That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept."
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 05:39 PM
Response to Original message
6. I am just appalled that network news is reporting Cheney's spin
that the weapons disappeared before soldiers got there. Bullshit.
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morgan2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 05:46 PM
Response to Original message
7. Ive been trying to use that in arguments since the invasion first started
Obviously if Bush was worried that Iraq had WMD's and that terrorists might get them, the advance teams of special forces in Iraq would be at these sites and ready to take control of them. They would be prime targets for any local criminal/terrorist to loot during/after the invasion. Bush obviously wasn't concerned about this. What the special forces went in and scouted out was the oil wells. Oil is what we cared about, oil is what we secured. Unfortunately because it hasnt been talked about by the major media no one believes me.
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. If they were really there to search for WMD, they would have secured them
It's outrageous. It's blatant. BushCO thumbs their nose at the world.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Exactly
That's when I absolutely, positively knew they were full of shit. If they had a remote clue of where a WMD site was located, like they said they did, special ops would have secured them. Not to mention the rest of these IAEA locations. I don't know how the troops can't be pissed as all hell that we secured oil fields instead of weapons dumps. Seems like complete dereliction of duty on the part of the Generals to me.
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. "dereliction of duty"
That's it.
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Sara Beverley Donating Member (989 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 08:03 PM
Response to Original message
12. Not just Bush incompetence. Also Rumsfeld's arrogance and stupidity!
Rummy was calling most of these shots. Remember, they made Colin take a back seat and got him out of the military advisement business. It was Wolfowitz, Rove, Rumsfeld, and Cheney calling these assinine shots.
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-27-04 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. What shall we do with the neo-cons in January?
Tar and feathers? Traitors all.

Welcome to DU, Sara.
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DemsUnited Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
13. Stephanie, thanks for this great post.
Hopefully, the Al Qaqaa will refocus media attention on all these other examples of criminal incompetence.
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-27-04 04:25 PM
Response to Reply #13
19. Thanks - I want this info to reinforce the Al Qaqaa story
This inane argument that the Al Qaqaa looting never happened or happened before the invasion or whatever the hell LIE they are telling now is making me crazy.

BushCO DID NOT CARE about the weapons sites. They didn't guard them. They didn't inspect them. They did NOTHING.
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DianeG5385 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
14. Maybe it's because they were ordered to secure NUKULAR sites
So they didn't bother with the nuclear sites. Yeah, I know, lame.
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-27-04 03:39 AM
Response to Original message
16. kick
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novadem Donating Member (211 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-27-04 03:51 AM
Response to Original message
17. The only thing about this line of thinking is that
it could give the repugs a way to justify that there were actually WMDs in Iraq. I don't think we want that in the news this week.
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-27-04 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. The materials were SEALED and MONITORED by the IAEA
That was the point of having weapons inspectors.

It was only after Bush INVADED that the site went unguarded and the materials were stolen. Before that they were known and catalogued by the UN.

Is that too difficult for a republican to understand?
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-27-04 05:48 PM
Response to Original message
20. This is important
It wasn't just Al Qaqaa.
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