US Removed Radioactive material From Iraq
The Washington Post
July 7, 2004 Wednesday
SECTION: A Section; A16
U.S. Removed Radioactive Materials From Iraq Facility
Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced yesterday that almost two tons of low-enriched uranium and about 1,000 radioactive samples used for research had been removed from Iraq's Tuwaitha Nuclear Center and brought to the United States for security reasons.
The airlift of the radioactive materials was completed June 23, Abraham said in a statement, "to keep potentially dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists." Less sensitive radiological materials -- used for medical, agricultural or industrial purposes -- were left in Iraq, according to a Department of Energy statement.
In April 2003, just days after the statue of Hussein in Baghdad was pulled down, a U.S. Marine engineering company took a close look at Tuwaitha, which is 30 miles south of Baghdad. There they found guards had abandoned their posts and looters were roaming the giant facility. At one storage building, which later was found to hold radioactive samples used in research, the radiation levels were too high to enter safely, although the entrance door stood wide open.
A month later, the Pentagon rejected suggestions that U.N. inspectors be allowed to reenter Iraq but agreed the IAEA experts could return to secure the uranium that had been under its seal for years.