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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] www.sundayherald.com 3rd August 2003 Looted and for sale in Iraq: the deadly core of nuclear weapons Exclusive: Potentially lethal radioactive sources missing from Saddam&rsquos biggest N-plant By David Pratt, Foreign Editor, and Felicity Arbuthnot PURE uranium oxide which could be used in the making of a &ldquodirty nuclear bomb&rdquo capable of killing countless people is being offered for sale in a Basra souk for $250,000. Senior American officials have confirmed that rampant looting was discovered by US marines arriving at the al-Tuwaitha nuclear site on April 7. Melissa Fleming, a spokes woman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, says: &ldquoAs many as 400 potentially lethal radioactive sources are still missing from the inventory at al-Tuwaitha.&rdquo The Sunday Herald source, who cannot be named for fear of reprisals, was approached by black marketeers in Basra and asked if he would help sell the material. He said: &ldquoThe cylinders are about a foot long, grey in colour with a red band around the top. The skull and crossbones warning logo, and the label &lsquopure uranium oxide&rsquo are clearly marked in English.&rdquo He added that it is thought to have come from the al-Tuwaitha complex, which is 15 miles southeast of Baghdad. John Large, a leading independent nuclear consultant, said the size and description of the cylinders &ldquosuggests this is enriched uranium&rdquo. He added: &ldquoA well-informed terrorist might be able to construct a crude nuclear device which would act like a mini-nuclear reactor and generate highly radioactive fission products for release into the urban atmosphere.&rdquo Even if the uranium was not enriched, he says any radio active material is dangerous in the hands of terrorists because of its psychological impact. &ldquoThe public perception of all things nuclear is of a fate worse than death. The use of even low-level uranium in a dirty bomb would cause widespread psychological and economic panic.&rdquo US Army officials who checked the al-Tuwaitha site soon after the marines arrived encountered high radiation levels in the storage building and withdrew. For three weeks prior to this, hundreds of villagers who live in the shadow of the barbed wire fences that surround the labyrinth of the nuclear plant had been bathing in and drinking water laced with radioactive contaminants from barrels they had stolen, emptied and used as containers. The barrels, experts say, had held uranium ores, low- enriched uranium &ldquoyellowcake&rdquo, nuclear sludge and other by-products. Some villagers have since contracted symptoms attributed to radiation contamination. Ever since, atomic agency officials have pressed for access to the site, but American officials have resisted. &ldquoThey say that the mandate of the agency in Iraq has expired and that allied forces are in charge,&rdquo said Melissa Fleming. The uncertainty surrounding the case underlines a worrying new trend, as a spate of incidents from Nigeria to the former Soviet Union and Latin America suggests radioactive materials needed to build dirty bombs could emerge almost anywhere. _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk