Greenpeace demands full disclosure on secret US nuclear shipment from Iraq

Press release - 7 July, 2004
Greenpeace is calling on the Bush Administration to release a full inventory of the radioactive materials it secretly airlifted out of Iraq two weeks ago. The international environmental organisation further called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be given full authority over the potentially deadly radioactive materials.

When it comes to the possibility of loose nukes and terrorists building so-called dirty bombs, the assurances by the US Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, that "roughly" 1000 highly radioactive sources have been taken out of harms way are simply not good enough (1). "When it comes to potential dirty bombs, 'roughly' is not a word that should be used. We need to know exactly how many they have, how many were in Iraq and how many could be missing," said Mike Townsley of Greenpeace International. "The US Administration lied its way into the Iraq war by claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The international community can have no confidence US' assurances that the inventory of radioactive industrial isotope is complete."

Greenpeace believes that only full disclosure of past and present inventories under the authority of the IAEA can give confidence that dangerous materials have not made their way onto the nuclear black market. In recent weeks, nuclear material from Iraq has been found in both the Netherlands and Turkey, showing that nuclear material can and does leave the country, leading to possible pathways to terror.

"For over 14 months the US led coalition government has denied the IAEA free access to Iraq, we must ask why? What do they have to hide?" continued Townsley.

Greenpeace further calls on the new Iraqi government to do what L. Paul Bremmer and Washington would not, rejoin the international non-proliferation community and allow the IAEA free access to all of its nuclear facilities.

Notes: (1) (2)Following reports that Iraq’s largest nuclear facility, Tuwaitha, had been substantially ‘looted’ in the immediate wake of the Iraq war, Greenpeace decided to send a small team to investigate. The main team was in Baghdad from June 16 until July 4. What the team found gives significant cause for concern: a picture of wide spread radioactive contamination and ‘official’ disarray and intransigence. The Greenpeace team found: A huge "yellow cake" mixing canister, with approximately 4-5 kilos of radioactive uranium inside, abandoned on open ground near a village; radioactivity in a series of houses, including one ‘industrial’ source registering 10,000 times above normal background radiation levels; another ‘industrial’ source outside a 900 pupil primary school registering 3,000 times above normal background radiation levels; locals who where still storing radioactive barrels and lids in their houses; a small radioactive ‘industrial’ source abandoned in a field; several objects carrying radioactive symbols discarded in the local towns and villages;consistent and repeated stories of unusual sickness after coming into contact with material from the Tuwaitha plant.