Given that we invaded Iraq to look for WMD, one would think we would have had the foresight to guard the Iraqi nuclear facilities....
Iraqi nuclear material concerns IAEA chief
ElBaradei: Looting raises environmental, security risks
MEDFORD, Massachusetts (CNN) --The man who before the war led the search for Iraq's suspected nuclear weapons material said Sunday he is frustrated that his inspectors are shut out of Iraq, and "extremely concerned" about reports of looting and thefts at Iraqi nuclear facilities.
Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was particularly disturbed to hear that nuclear material has been stolen amid the general disorder in Iraq.
"[There are] a lot of radioactive sources that people have been exposed to, and that obviously is a major worry for us," he told reporters before giving a commencement speech at Tufts University.
"We are concerned from what we see in the newspaper, that there are some seals which have [been] tampered [with]; there are radioactive sources that have been stolen. We do not know where they are, we do not know the impact on the civilian population, we do not know whether nuclear materials under safeguard have been looted," ElBaradei said.
Elbaradei: 'I am getting frustrated'
"There is a security issue also," he warned. "There are a lot of powerful radioactive sources in Iraq, and these are the sort of sources that can be used for dirty bombs."
ElBaradei said he had been writing to U.S. officials for months, and "I am getting frustrated that we haven't heard their response yet."
Late last year, the IAEA was authorized by the U.N. Security Council to search for alleged banned nuclear activities in Iraq. In his final report to the Security Council, in March, ElBaradei said his inspectors had found "no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program."
"We still stand by our conclusion before the war," he said Sunday. "However, before war, we said we need to complete our work. It is not over yet. We need go back, we need to end that job, we need to close that file. The longer that file remains open, the worse it is for everybody."
Last month, ElBaradei told CNN that he thought inspectors could complete the job "in a very short period of time."
Sunday, he said his inspection team is more qualified than U.S. military personnel to conduct inspections and search for nuclear material.
"We have the most field experience. We know who to interview, what to do. We would be much more efficient in completing that job."
The administration has been noncommittal about a possible future role for U.N. inspectors in Iraq, while Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, has endorsed sending the U.N. teams back.
In his free-wheeling exchange with reporters, ElBaradei also discussed the need for diplomacy in solving international disputes.
"We need to see and learn that we are best served by solving our problems through dialogue and interaction. I don't think recoursing to war every time we have a dispute is going to solve our problems," he said. "We need a world based on the rule of law and not raw, naked power." http://cnn.com
From what I heard on the news today, quite a lot of nuclear or radioactive material, of various types, has been stolen. It can make those in the population ill, but some of it can also be used to make "dirty bombs".
How on earth could we have been so lax and not guarded these facilities more effectively?