Thursday, Jun 05, 2003
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The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) task will be to determine how much nuclear material was looted from a storage site near the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Centre after the war.
But the United States, as the occupying power in Iraq, has limited their mission to counting missing containers of radioactive material and repackaging spilled material.
They will not measure environmental contamination or look into reports of radiation sickness among nearby residents. The team is barred from entering the main Tuwaitha complex and will have no access to six other nuclear sites in Iraq that were allegedly looted in the post-war chaos.
The United States only agreed to let the agency back into Iraq after repeated warnings by the IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei. He said a radiological and humanitarian emergency was brewing after residents allegedly emptied containers of uranium on the ground and took the barrels to use at home.
``We don't want nuclear material anywhere lying around. We want to make sure it does not fall into the wrong hands,'' an IAEA spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, said. The IAEA investigation will be confined to ``Location C'', the storage depot outside the Tuwaitha complex.
The IAEA team will arrive in Kuwait later on Wednesday and will head to Iraq on Friday.
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