The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium - reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.Associated Press
The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" - the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment - was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
Some are reporting this as a new unreported finding. I think that is being blown out of proportion as this really is old news.
When I head this story this week I remembered the origins from a few years back. I wrote about it in October 7, 2004 in passing (search page for yellow), and today I am glad they were finally dealing with this material and removing it from the region.
This material was discussed in the Iraqi Survey Group's report. In addition it was a known quantity of material that was acquired and reported by Iraq in their declarations following the 1991 Gulf War. We know where the material came from and where it was kept.
Known Iraqi uranium holdings have been accounted for by the Coalition and the IAEA. In June 2004, a joint IAEA and Coalition team verified the inventory of Iraqi uranium compounds—an inventory comprising both imported material and that indigenously produced prior to 1991 (see figure 4).
Prior to 1991, Iraq also acquired highly enriched uranium for its research reactors from France and Russia—material that was removed from Iraq following the 1991 Gulf war. Following the Husayn Kamil defection in 1995, Iraq admitted that in 1991 it had intended to use this highly enriched fuel as part of a “crash program” to develop a nuclear weapon (see Table 1). (ed note: the difference in tonnage is accounted for in Iraq's pre 1991 domestic production facilities -- see link).
- During the 1970s and early 1980s, Iraq bought uranium in various forms from the international market. These materials included about 486 tons of yellowcake, 33,470 kg of “natural” uranium dioxide, 1,767 kg of “low-enriched” uranium dioxide (2.6 percent 235U), and 6,005 kg of “depleted” uranium dioxide from Portugal, Italy, Niger, and Brazil.
Additionally this was part of the material that the IAEA was pissed off about us disturbing in July 2004 as it was under their control and UN seal up till the invasion of the country, as pointed out in this American Thinker report dated July 15, 2004.
Now, the IAEA complains that the Department of Energy (DOE) shipped the radioactive materials to the US without UN permission. The agency's rationale is that there wasThat has to be an intricacy of the cease fire agreement, Iraq owned the material and would probably have been required to sell it under the supervision of the IAEA, but I'm just guessing here. They can't have been allowed to keep it, right? (From the AP story:)
some concern about the legality of the U.S. transfer because the nuclear material belonged to Iraq and was under the control and supervision of the IAEA.
The Iraqi government sold the yellowcake to a Canadian uranium producer, Cameco Corp., in a transaction the official described as worth "tens of millions of dollars." A Cameco spokesman, Lyle Krahn, declined to discuss the price, but said the yellowcake will be processed at facilities in Ontario for use in energy-producing reactors.This material does not involve Wilson/Plame or their attempts to change history in any way. Various agencies still support the story that Iraq was attempting to purchase yellow cake. This simply is not that material.
That Iraq had a nuclear program before the Gulf War is a fact, they have the destroyed reactor to prove it thanks to the Israelis. That Iraq had an ongoing program that was exposed in 1995 is also a fact as it was uncovered following the defection of Saddam's son in law. That Iraq planned on reconstituting that program as soon as sanctions were lifted is also a fact.
However, this yellow cake is not a new revelation or a new admission of Iraqi guilt. This is simply the fitting resolution of an old news story.