One of the many reasons that the entire Niger “Yellowcake” story was ridiculous was that Iraq under Saddam had no need to buy more unrefined uranium. As the United States government and the Bush administration knew full well, they already had a large stockpile under IAEA seal prior to the US/UK invasion in March 2003:
Following the 1991 Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency removed all known Iraqi stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 687. As of 2002 the only positively confirmed nuclear material left in Iraq is 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and several tons of natural and depleted uranium. The material is in a locked storage site at the Tuwaitha nuclear research facility near Baghdad. Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this stock of material is checked once a year by an IAEA team. The most recent check was in January 2002, and none of the material had been tampered with at that time.
So, the IAEA after Gulf War I had removed all of the highly enriched uranium that had been produced and placed all the low enriched and raw material under seal subject to yearly inspections by an IAEA team. Nothing we were told about prior to the war in our media, of course. We were much too concerned about the threat of “mushroom clouds” that could spring up at any moment. Nonetheless, one of those international organizations the Bush team so often likes to disparage actually had a good handle on Saddam’s nuclear weapons program, or lack thereof:
All known indigenous facilities capable of producing uranium compounds useful for fuel fabrication and for isotopic enrichment were destroyed during the Gulf War; IAEA inspected and completed the destruction of facilities; IAEA monitored the sites as part of their OMV activities.
So, of course, we invaded. And what happened next was quite frankly a catastrophe, as this story dated June 6, 2003 from BBC News online makes clear:
But that was just the beginning . . . (more to follow, including a report on the Bush administration’s multiple secret plans for Iraq’s oil)
A modified version of this story has been cross-posted at Daily Kos.
American priorities were never concerned with Iraq’s nuclear program. Indeed, stability and security in the country wasn’t much of a priority either, as the Baghdad rioting and looting following our troops’ entrance into that city made clear. Instead, the most significant objective of our forces was something far more dear to the hearts of Bush, Cheney and their neo-con friends: Iraq’s oil. Here’s the scoop from Greg Palast (originally published in March 2005):
Let me summarize that for you. The United States, with input from the major oil companies began planning for a coup against Saddam before 9/11. After 9/11, the coup plan was scrapped by the neo-con plan to invade and privatise Iraq’s oil industry, in the neocon hope (fantasy) that they could break the power of the OPEC oil cartel. Big Oil, through a former Chairman of Shell Oil, Phillip Carroll, and also through an employee of Bush loyalist, James Baker, then stepped in to protect their own interests and the interests of the Saudis. Thus, the only in-fighting among the Bush crew was over which plan for that oil to pursue. Guess we now know why we went into Iraq, don’t we.
But what about Iraq’s yellowcake and other low enriched uranium stockpile? You know, the stuff from which our fears were formed by the Bush All-Spin Team? The reason we were told there was such an urgent need to invade in the first place? Well, this article from the Greenpeace site gets us up speed as of December, 2004:
Greenpeace spokesperson Mike Townsley said at the time of our inspection “If this had happened in the UK, the US or any other country, the villages around Tuwaitha would be swarming with radiation experts and decontamination teams. It would have been branded a nuclear disaster site and the people given immediate medical check-ups. The people of Iraq deserve no less from the international community. That they are being ignored is a scandal that must be rectified without delay.”
Nothing has been done to date. And in their response to our warning about vanishing inventories, the best the IAEA could say was this:
“The Agency has offered the Iraqi authorities advice on the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive material. However, the Agency’s assistance is based on requests, and, in line with the Agency’s confidentiality regime, the Agency can only publish protected information with the consent of the concerned State or States. Some of your enquiries and suggestions may therefore more appropriately be directed to the Iraqi Interim Government […] At this stage, it is important that IAEA inspectors return to Iraq…”
What does the IAEA have to say about this? Well in it’s October 2005 formal report to the UN Security Council regarding Iraq, it said:
Since 17 March 2003, the IAEA has not been in a position to implement its mandate in Iraq under resolution 687 (1991) and related resolutions.
This statement has been included in each report given to the UN Security Council since the date of the American led invasion of Iraq.
Lest you think this is just a tragic, but primarily local environmental disaster, let me remind you that in the recent Iraqi elections religious Shi’a parties won control of the government, parties with close ties and affiliations with the ruling mullahs in Iran. Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear program which all agree has the potential to produce nuclear weapons. Finally, because of our past failure to secure the Tuwaitha facility, low enriched and raw uranium has been (and still may be) available to anyone who wishes to cart it off. We know for a fact that some of that uranium found its way to Holland in a shipment of scrap metal.
If Iraqi uranium can be sent to Europe without anyone being the wiser, imagine how much could have been acquired by Iran, or Syria or even a terrorist organization who could use it to make a dirty bomb, even if they lack the resources to fashion a nuclear device.
Meanwhile the Bush administration fights with itself over how Iraq’s oil will be divvied up, and who will benefit from that division. Any questions about what matters most to Bush? Spreading freedom and democracy? Fighting terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here? Protecting us from Iraq’s nuclear weapons program related activities? Or that big elephant in the room that everyone is too shy (or afraid) to talk about?
What do you think?
Here’s a link to the documents which back up Palast’s report: Link
And here’s the link to seesdifferent’s diary at Daily Kos on this story from November of this year. I know this isn’t exactly news to us who frequent liberal blogs, but it bears repeating, and if we are to act as an effective progressive outlet for news and information, we need to keep pushing these stories that don’t get reported by our major media in America until they do start reporting on them.