A frightened villager brings the lid of a barrel that contained uranium oxide (yellowcake) taken from the Tuwaitha nuclear facility, that was left unsecured by occupying forces after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The family used this radioactive barrel to store water and are complaining of rashes and skin problems.
Say no to war
Greenpeace is opposed to war. Most recently, we joined with people all over the world in months of global action to promote a non-violent solution to the conflict in Iraq.
We believed the war was more about oil than about effectively dealing with weapons of mass destruction. It would result in devastating human and environmental consequences, and set a dangerous (not to mention illegal) precedent.
Though the occupying forces were quick to secure Iraqi oil fields, they neglected to safeguard dangerous nuclear material. Now that material has made its way to homes and schools. Weapons of mass destruction, the alleged reason for the war in the first place, were never found.
Uranium and other nuclear material stored under UN control in Iraq until the fall of Saddam Hussein have been stolen and local residents are reportedly displaying symptoms of radiation poisoning. Six weeks after the occupying forces took control of the country, the US finally conceded that the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), could return to assess what has been stolen at part of one site, Tuwaitha. Yet the IAEA has been refused access to the nearby population or to other sites it wants to visit, in contravention of UN resolutions.
We went to Iraq in June 2003 with a small, specialist team to examine the local environment and to assess the extent of any nuclear contamination. The team took samples of soil and water for laboratory analysis and conducted on-site monitoring with specialist radiation detection equipment. While the extent of the Greenpeace radiological survey will not be comprehensive, it will provide some idea of the true level of risk to the people of the area and to the environment.
We are calling for a full assessment of the situation at Tuwaitha and other nuclear sites in Iraq:
- The occupying powers must allow the IAEA to remain in Iraq with an unrestricted mandate to test as well as document all nuclear sites.
- The occupying powers must allow the IAEA to oversee an urgent medical and environmental assessment of the impact of the radioactive material that has spread in the local community - a practice that would be standard in any other country and circumstance.
- A hunt for all the industrial radioactive isotopes in Iraq must be conducted urgently - these are all potential dirty bombs.