Iraq: UN inspectors arrive to check on reports of nuclear looting

6 June 2003

A seven-member United Nations inspection team arrived in Baghdad today to determine how much nuclear material, if any, is missing following reports of looting at an Iraqi site that had been under seal of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

A seven-member United Nations inspection team arrived in Baghdad today to determine how much nuclear material, if any, is missing following reports of looting at an Iraqi site that had been under seal of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA team will carry out a mandate under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to conduct an inventory of nuclear material at a storage site, known as “Location C,” near the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Centre, which had held about 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and some 500 tons of natural and depleted uranium. The inspection is separate from the IAEA’s Security Council mandate, which authorized the agency’s search for evidence of banned nuclear weapons, material or programmes.

The site had been under IAEA seal and regularly inspected since 1991 and the inspectors will secure the facility, if necessary. The inspection work is being facilitated by the United States military, which will provide logistics and security, and is expected to last two weeks.

On the humanitarian front, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported some progress in its efforts to jump start Iraq’s health system, including the recent completion of a training course in Basra, the country’s second city, focused on gathering reliable information about infectious disease symptoms and outbreaks.

WHO has been working with officials and doctors in the health authority to revive the surveillance system, in individual cities, governorates and ultimately across the country, according to a news release in Geneva.

The agency has also helped to provide computers and money to rebuild the infrastructure at the state medicine supply and distribution company, Kimadia, which was badly damaged by looting, with warehouses, offices, computers, doors and windows as well as medicines either stolen or broken.

Recruiting and training of security guards for hospitals, warehouses and other facilities has also begun, WHO reported. There have been huge problems with security in health facilities since the end of the conflict and guards are urgently needed. Initially, 104 people will be trained, the first batch of a security team that will eventually number 3,000 and provide security for key hospitals and medical warehouses throughout the country.

 

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