Iraqi Yellowcake Uranium Moved to Montreal
Saddam’s supply of yellowcake has been secretly sold to a Canadian energy firm and flown safely to Montreal.
The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program – a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium – reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans. The removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” – the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment – was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
While yellowcake alone is not considered potent enough for a so-called “dirty bomb” – a conventional explosive that disperses radioactive material – it could stir widespread panic if incorporated in a blast. Yellowcake also can be enriched for use in reactors and, at higher levels, nuclear weapons using sophisticated equipment.
Tuwaitha and an adjacent research facility were well known for decades as the centerpiece of Saddam’s nuclear efforts. Israeli warplanes bombed a reactor project at the site in 1981. Later, U.N. inspectors documented and safeguarded the yellowcake, which had been stored in aging drums and containers since before the 1991 Gulf War. There was no evidence of any yellowcake dating from after 1991, the official said.
Daniel De Groot notes that “this uranium a) was not weapons grade and b) was well known to the UN and IAEA and was being stored legally by Saddam’s government. It was legally in Iraq according to international law.” Barbara O’Brien adds, “The critical point is that Saddam Hussein couldn’t do anything with this uranium because he lacked the equipment and technology to enrich it. So it had been sitting around for years in drums sealed by the IAEA. No nuclear program.” Here’s an extensive listings of IAEA Key Findings on Iraq’s Nuclear Program, listing extensively the materials we knew about before the invasion.
I’d add that the key line from the AP report is, “There was no evidence of any yellowcake dating from after 1991.” So, while Joe Wilson may have lied about many things, the movement of yellowcake from more than a decade before his infamous fact finding trip isn’t evidence of a new one.