CNN has an update on that story reported by Al Jazeera yesterday, and it looks like Al Jazeera left out some important information — such as the fact that the director of the laboratory says their tests are “not conclusive.”
The tests found unusually high levels of polonium-210, one of the scientists involved in the study said.
The results do not mean that Arafat suffered radiation poisoning, François Bochud told CNN. Some details in Arafat’s medical records are not consistent with polonium poisoning, he explained.
“We have evidence there is too much polonium, but we also have hints from the medical records that this may not be the case. The only way to resolve this anomaly would be by testing the body,” said Bochud, director of the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland. …
Bochud’s research team tested Arafat’s toothbrush, clothing and keffiyeh, the trademark black-and-white scarf he always wore, Bochud said. …
It should be possible to measure any remaining polonium — a naturally radioactive chemical element — in Arafat’s body despite the length of time since his death because he was buried in a tomb, not underground, Bochud said. …
There was no evidence of traditional poison, Bochud said. Al Jazeera and the family then asked him to test for radioactive material, he said.
They found an “unexplained amount of polonium-210,” he said, cautioning: “We are testing tiny quantities so it is difficult to measure and not conclusive.”
A stain from body fluid included 180 megabecquerels of the substance per liter, while a typical sample would contain 5 megabecquerels, Bochud said. The fabric of his clothing itself, without body fluid, contained less than 10 megabecquerels, Bochud said. (A becquerel is a measurement of radioactive intensity by weight.)
Several tests involving biological samples — such as urine, sweat or blood — contained higher levels than other samples in the same bag, he said.
Arafat’s clothes were inside a sports bag, which his widow said she had left them in since they were returned from the hospital eight years ago, Bochud said.
It was not immediately clear whether anything that happened to the clothes — over the years or in the testing process — may have affected the result of the tests.