Whining Sound Heard From 1st and 43rd
What’s that sound? Is that an increasing whine from the United Nations? about the legality of shipping tons of nuclear material out of Iraq? UN Didn’t OK Uranium Transfer to US.
UNITED NATIONS - The United States didn’t have authorization from the U.N. nuclear watchdog when it secretly shipped from Iraq uranium and highly radioactive material that could be used in so-called “dirty bombs,” U.N. officials said Wednesday.
The nearly 2 tons of low-enriched uranium and approximately 1,000 highly radioactive items transferred from Iraq to the United States last month had been placed under seal by the International Atomic Energy Agency at the sprawling Tuwaitha nuclear complex, 12 miles south of Baghdad, the officials said.
“The American authorities just informed us of their intention to remove the materials, but they never sought authorization from us,” said Gustavo Zlauvinen, head of the IAEA’s New York office.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham disclosed the secret airlift from Iraq on Tuesday as “a major achievement” in an attempt to “keep potentially dangerous nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists.” The material was taken to an undisclosed U.S. Energy Department laboratory for further analysis.
The airlift ended on June 23, five days before the United States transferred sovereignty to Iraq’s new interim government.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in a letter to the Security Council circulated Wednesday that Washington informed the agency on June 19 that “due to security concerns” it intended to transfer some nuclear material stored at Tuwaitha to the United States.
The agency took note of the U.S. intention to remove the nuclear material “from agency verification,” he said.
According to the letter, the United States informed the IAEA on June 30 that approximately 1.8 tons of uranium, enriched to a level of 2.6 percent, another 6.6 pounds of low-enriched uranium, and approximately 1,000 highly radioactive sources had been transferred on June 23.
A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was 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.