Tuesday, July 08, 2008

AP Reports WMD Moved Out Of Iraq

The article below is courtesy of the Associated Press and should raise some eyebrows on a number of fronts:

Iraqi uranium transferred to Canada

by Jim Mannion Mon Jul 7, 12:12 PM ET

At Iraq's request, the US military recently transferred hundreds of metric tons of yellowcake uranium from Iraq to Canada in a secret, weeks-long operation, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The 550 metric tons of uranium, which was sold to a Canadian company, was moved by truck convoy to Baghdad's "Green Zone," then flown by military aircraft to a third country where it was put on a ship for Canada, said Bryan Whitman, the spokesman.

"The operation was completed over the weekend, on Saturday," Whitman said.

The yellow cake was discovered by US troops after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Facility south of Baghdad, and was placed under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Yellowcake is a form of processed uranium ore that can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors, or if further enriched as fuel for nuclear weapons.

Whitman said the Iraqi government asked the United States for help in selling and transferring the uranium to another country.

Cameco, a Canadian company, agreed to buy the yellowcake for a reported sum in the tens of millions of dollars.

The cost to the United States of transferring the uranium came to about 70 million dollars, Whitman said. He said the Iraqi government has agreed in principle to repay part of the transfer costs.

The US State and Energy Departments also played roles in the operation, Whitman said. But the Defense Department took the lead in carrying out the transfer, he said.

It took 110 shipping containers to carry the drums loaded with yellowcake, he said.

They were transferred by convoy from Tuwaitha to a secure facility within the Green Zone, the international zone, Whitman said.

Then they were flown by C-17 military transport planes to an undisclosed third country. Whitman said it took 37 planeloads to complete that portion of the transfer.

"At this intermediate location the cargo was loaded onto a US-flagged cargo ship, a military sealift container ship, the USS Gopher State," he said.

Whitman said the arrangements for the sale began several months ago, but the transfer itself took "weeks not months."

With the transfer, no yellowcake was known to be left in Iraq, Whitman said.

News of the operation broke over the weekend when Cameco acknowledged the arrival of the uranium shipment at Montreal.

Lyle Khran, a Cameco spokesman, said the company had responded to a bid request made last year by the US government.

"We are satisfied at having been able to remove uranium from one of the most unstable regions of the world, and to have transferred it to a stable region to produce our own electric power," he said on Sunday.

He said the yellowcake would be used at the Blind River and Port Hope nuclear power plants north of Toronto.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm...not a big enough story for the mainstream? Why so hush-hush?

Tom said...

550 Metric Tons of Yellowcake, what about it? (see video) US removes Uranium from Iraq, not what many assume, it was not discovered by the US and was not "WMD": see video http://tinyurl.com/6zdq3w

Sean G. Kilkelly said...

I appreciate both of your comments…

However, there were several points that perhaps I did not do a good enough job conveying.

The first is that this story should be a bigger deal. The media’s job is to report what is going on – good or bad. The bad stories out of Iraq have always been given way more press than any of the good stories.

Is that usually the case with journalism? Yes, you could make that argument.

But, too often, anything positive from Iraq has always been spun by the media with some sort of negative twist, be it the capture of Saddam, the killing of his sons, or the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

There have been positive strides in Iraq since the troop surge, which Senator John McCain always said that the U.S. did not go into Iraq with the proper number of troops.

I believe that the media is clearly on the side of Senator Obama in his bid for the White House and so therefore any news that could boost McCain’s chances will be suppressed.

While the U.S. has not found the stockpiles of WMD in Iraq that the CIA said Saddam had and although yellowcake by itself would not be defined as a weapon of mass destruction, the story says:

“Yellowcake is a form of processed uranium ore that can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors, or if further enriched as fuel for nuclear weapons.”

I think that taking 550 metric tons of that stuff out of that part of the world and storing it in a “safe” place in Canada is a positive.

But positives and good don’t sell papers I suppose, blood and mayhem do.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful and intelligent commentary Sean!

If only the mainstream, or the majority of journalists for that matter, had half as much just maybe this country would be headed in a positive direction!

Thanks for your contribution!

Sean G. Kilkelly said...

Thanks anon for the compliments!