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ElBaradei Warns of Iraq Nuclear Emergency Reuters http://tinyurl.com/c67q VIENNA (Reuters) - The head of the United Nations (news - web sites) nuclear watchdog agency warned on Monday that a nuclear contamination emergency may be developing in Iraq and appealed to the United States to let his experts back into the country. "I am deeply concerned by the almost daily reports of looting and destruction at nuclear sites," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in a statement. He said he was especially worried "about the potential radiological safety and security implications of nuclear and radiological materials that may no longer be under control." He said the reports the IAEA has received described uranium being emptied on the ground from containers then taken for domestic use and radioactive sources being stolen and removed from their shielding. "We have a moral responsibility to establish the facts without delay and take urgent remedial action," ElBaradei said. The U.N. agency has warned that stolen radioactive material could end up in the hands of terrorists who could use it to make dirty bombs, which combine radioactive material with a conventional explosive like dynamite to spread it over a wide area and is aimed more at causing panic than physical damage. The IAEA chief first asked the United States on April 10 to secure nuclear material stored under U.N. seal at Iraq's Tuwaitha nuclear research center and was promised by the United States that its military would keep the site secure. One of the sources stored at Tuwaitha is caesium 137, a highly radioactive powder that would be especially dangerous in a dirty bomb. In 1987, a canister of caesium powder found in a Brazil junkyard exposed 249 people to radiation, killing four. After numerous media reports that Tuwaitha and other nuclear facilities in Iraq had been looted, ElBaradei wrote again to the U.S. on April 29 requesting permission to send a mission to Iraq to investigate the looting reports. The IAEA has received no response from Washington and said that the contamination in Iraq could lead to a "serious humanitarian situation." There have already been media reports that residents near Tuwaitha have exhibited symptoms of radiation sickness. There are more than 1,000 other radioactive sources in Iraq, many of which were stored at Tuwaitha. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- May 20, 2003 London Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5944-686385,00.html US may open door to UN inspectors >From James Bone in New York THE United States opened the door to a possible future role for United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq last night as one of a series of concessions aimed at getting UN sanctions lifted as early as tomorrow. Britain, Spain and the United States tabled a revised draft resolution enhancing the powers of the UN in postwar Iraq in a bid to win the backing of France, Russia and other sceptical Security Council members in a vote this week. The amendments would boost the status of the UN envoy to Iraq, increase the authority of the international board overseeing its oil sales and wind down the UN’s Oil-for-Food programme over six months rather than four. For the first time since the war, the United States signalled that it might be willing to accept a future role for the UN weapons inspectors — a point of conflict even with its close ally, Britain. Under existing UN resolutions, the UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Monitoring and Verification Commission (Unmovic) are required to certify Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction before UN sanctions are finally ended. American officials, angered by the inspectors’ performance before the war, have made clear that they saw no role for them in the foreseeable future. Despite Britain’s pleadings behind the scenes, the original draft made no mention of UN inspectors returning to the country to certify it weapons-free. Russia and France both objected that sanctions should only be suspended, rather than formally lifted, until the inspectors were able to complete their work. The latest proposal does not concede that the UN inspectors will definitely return to Iraq, but it leaves open the possibility by “reaffirming the importance of . . . the eventual confirmation of the disarmament of Iraq”. It also promises that the Security Council will “revisit the mandates of Unmovic and the IAEA”. The drafting change represents a victory for the British Government, which is hoping to persuade the Bush Administration to allow the UN inspectors back into Iraq once Hans Blix, their chief, retires at the end of June. The new draft also offers a clearer description of the political role of a UN envoy — now called a special representative rather than merely a special co-ordinator. Many Security Council members had expressed concern that the UN envoy would be forced into a subordinate role to that of the coalition authority. The new text makes clear that the UN representative in Iraq will have “independent responsibilities”. A key paragraph says that these responsibilities would include “working intensively with the (coalition) authority, the people of Iraq and others concerned to advance efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative governance, including by collaborating to facilitate a process leading to an internationally recognised representative government of Iraq”. The powers of the international board overseeing Iraq’s oil sales would also be enhanced. In the original draft, its role was “advisory”. Now it is described as an “advisory and monitoring board”. In further concessions, the draft also calls for Britain and the United States to report “periodically” to the Security Council and says that their mandate as occupying powers will come to an end as soon as an internationally recognised, representative government is set up. Most Security Council countries gave no immediate reaction to the changes but, with most members ready to lift sanctions, neither Russia nor France control the votes needed to block passage of the resolution without exercising their veto — which they are not expected to do. Britain is hoping for a consensus on the Council, although it is unlikely that Syria will support the proposal. France and Russia are said to be wavering between a positive vote and an abstention. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk