Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yellowcake in Iraq

For those who have been reading, I have been having an ongoing conversation with the informed, determined, and borderline-brilliant :) Sirocco concerning the situation in Iraq. Along the way, there have been several back and forth allegations made. I notice that when we have these conversations, my hits go up, so even though not many are participating in the conversation, I will still bring it into the posts so google can give us credit.

First order of business.

Myth. There was no uranium, yellowcake or otherwise in Iraq.


In a secret operation, the United States last month removed from Iraq nearly two tons of uranium and hundreds of highly radioactive items that could have been used in a so-called dirty bomb the Energy Department disclosed Tuesday.

The nuclear material was secured from Iraq's former nuclear research facility and airlifted out of the country to an undisclosed Energy Department laboratory for further analysis, the department said in a statement.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham described the previously undisclosed operation, which was concluded June 23, as "a major achievement" in an attempt to "keep potentially dangerous nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists."

The haul included a "huge range" of radioactive items used for medical and industrial purposes, said Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration.

If you don't like Fox News, you can try

The USA Today

or the Washington Post which documents a further 400 tons of natural uranium.

Obviously 400 tons of natural uranium is not an immediate threat. However, it was enough for Saddam to begin his nuclear program as soon as sanctions were lifted. They had the talent, they had the natural uranium. What was needed next was centrifuges to further enrich the uranium.
(It didn't matter anyway because France or Russia would have sold them what they needed in short order.)

Now in all honesty, how many from both sides of the spectrum really believed that Saddam had no uranium? These types of things are the reason why the administration's handling of the PR part of the war has been a complete disaster.


Anonymous said...

Overlooking your postulate that Russia or France would of course have sold centrifuges to Iraq (a highly dubious claim, I think), did you overlook the fact all that uraniium cited was known, and was in IAEA control?

Yes, Saddam certainly _could_ have taken the personnel minding the uranium captive and tried to put the materials to use, but that really _would_ have been a legitimate cassus belli.

Thanks for the kind words .. I may not be brilliant or determined, but I am always willing to throw out my $.02.

Framer said...

I never claimed it wasn't registered, which is beside the point anyways. Sanctions were going to end which would mean that the inspections would be even more toothless if they occurred at all. Who was watching the stash in the years before the war? Who is controlling the uranium in Iran?

I'll admit I have a softer spot in my heart than most for the Russians, but they aren't above chicanery.

Nonetheless the IAEA has certainly shown little if any capacity to inhibit or control much of anything. had they been effective , North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan wouldn't really be much of a problem at this point.

Anonymous said...

On what grounds are your arguing the sanctions were about to end? It's entirely possible I missed something here, but off the top of my head I don't recollect there being any upcoming deadline (other than the war itself forcing the withdrawel of the inspecters).

The materials were under IAEA control (I think) in the years prior to the war. Sealed etc., so they could be regularly and easily accounted for as inspections occurred.

North Korea, Iran and Pakistan were not (and still are not) under anything like the inspection routine Iraq was subjected to after Iraq War I.

Anyhow, I am sure some people have mistakenly said there was "no" yellowcake or other materials in Iraq. More informed individuals have always acknowledged some materials existed, but they were pretty much under control ... which has, in retrospect, turned out to be true.

x4mr said...

Just a brief remark to note that the administration's handling of EVERY component of this war has been a disaster.

Believe it or not, my outrage is far more directed at HOW this fiasco was done, not the fact that it was.

The war DONE RIGHT might have achieved sound objectives. Instead, it has produced a nightmare.