Yellow cake uranium from Iraq

This isn’t current news in any way shape or form. I just want it documented for my easy reference. I thought I had but I can’t find it.

I keep running into people that claim “there were no WMD found in Iraq”. Well, maybe in some strict sense that is true. The chemical weapons had already been used on his own people with the remainder smuggled to Syria prior to the 2003 invasion. And the yellow cake uranium was already known from the U.N. inspectors before the invasion.

Yellow cake uranium? Isn’t that what everyone said Bush lied about? There couldn’t have been any of that found or it would have been big news that all those people that said Bush lied would have been wrong!

But yes, there was yellow cake uranium found in Iraq. Some news media did report on it but it didn’t get wide circulation. It made the news when Canada bought it and it was all safely out of Iraq in July of 2008.

Here are some details from the AP:

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program — a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

The removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” — the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy.

550 metric tons isn’t just some samples for experiments at your local nuclear physics classes. It’s many, many nuclear bombs worth of material.

From the New York Sun:

Here’s a story you may have missed over the long holiday weekend: 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium worth tens of millions of dollars were shipped out of Iraq to Canada. The material was transported in 37 military flights in 3,500 secure barrels, according to the Associated Press.

There hasn’t been much of a fuss about this material because it had been discovered already by United Nations inspectors after the first Gulf War. But it took a second American war in Iraq to move the material out of the Middle East. For all the talk about America’s failure to discover Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, this is a big deal. We’ve reported on claims by top Israeli officials speaking on the record that Iraq smuggled its chemical weapons to Syria before America invaded in 2003.

The uranium issue is not a trivial one, because Iraq, sitting on vast oil reserves, has no peaceful need for nuclear power. Saddam Hussein had already invaded Kuwait, launched missiles into Israeli cities, and harbored a terrorist group, the PKK, hostile to America’s NATO ally, Turkey. To leave this nuclear material sitting around the Middle East in the hands of Saddam and the same corrupt United Nations that failed to stop the genocide in Darfur and was guilty of the oil-for-food scandal would have been too big a risk.

From CNN:

The United States secretly shipped out of Iraq more than 500 tons of low-grade uranium dating back to the Saddam Hussein era, the Pentagon said Monday.

The U.S. military spent $70 million ensuring the safe transportation of 550 metric tons of the uranium from Iraq to Canada, said Pentagon spokesman Brian Whitman.

The shipment, which until recently was kept secret, involved a U.S. truck convoy, 37 cargo flights out of Baghdad to a transitional location, and then a transoceanic voyage on board a U.S.-government-owned ship designed to carry troops to a war zone, he said.

Think about that the next time someone says, “What WMDs?” Or they say, “What media bias?”

17 thoughts on “Yellow cake uranium from Iraq

  1. Thanks for dropping an updated list on this. I had a Kevin-Baker length rebuttal to the same bullshit talking point up on my LJ, but I suspect most of the links have since gone dead.

    Also IIRC there were rocket components, as well as labs for chemical weapons. It was all reported in the media, then promptly ignored. I actually was talking about the Iraq Yellowcake the other day, and the tactics are still the same. I didn’t change any minds bringing up the very scary truth, just got them to quiet down until they could find a less informed debater.

    Sad

  2. Yellow Cake is not really that useful for weapons without a way to refine the hell out of it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowcake

    Key point:
    Purified uranium metal (not the uranium oxide) can also be enriched in the isotope U-235. In this process, the uranium is combined with fluorine to form uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6). Next, that undergoes isotope separation through the process of gaseous diffusion, or in a gas centrifuge. This can produce a moderately enriched uranium containing about four percent U-235 that is suitable for use in large civilian electric-power reactors. With further processing one obtains highly-enriched uranium, containing 90% or more U-235, that is suitable for use in compact nuclear reactors – usually used to power naval warships and submarines, or in nuclear weapons. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is a worldwide surplus of highly-enriched uranium (edit: i.e. 20%), and not much is made anymore. All the large uranium diffusion plants in the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom have been closed, and some of them are being demolished. See the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant or K-25.

    So the question becomes, did Saddam have the equipment & technology to turn Yellow cake into weapons grade U-235?

  3. Sorry Joe, but for once I have to disagree with you. I’m one of the people that was and is against the invasion of Iraq. I’m one of the people that says “They never found WMDs in Iraq”, which you, yourself admit is true. Any chemical weapons that Iraq might have had were supposedly smuggled to Syria. As far as I’ve seen, this is just a theory and there is no proof that this actually happened. In either case, I believe the US was in the wrong. If the weapons were smuggled to Syria before the invasion, then we had no justification to invade. If the weapons weren’t smuggled, and we haven’t found them, then they didn’t exist at all and we had no justification to invade.

    As to the issue of yellowcake uranium… where to begin. The article asserts that Iraq had a bunch of yellowcake. Okay, great. By itself, yellowcake uranium is nothing special. It needs to be enriched to be viable as a weapon. So far I’ve seen no evidence that Iraq had a viable enrichment program when we invaded. So, attacking them while using yellowcake for justification is, in my eyes, like attacking a household because they have truckloads of fertilizer.

    Everyone seems to be operating under the assumption that any nation that develops nuclear capability is ripe for an invasion “to stabilize the region”. I hate to bring up the fact that the US is the nation with the most nuclear weapons, and the only nation ever to use them in anger. So who are we to say that another country can’t have them? The article’s assertion that Iraq has oil, and therefore doesn’t need weapons, is ludicrous. If anything, having natural resources is all the more reason to have weapons, since someone always wants what others have. Do I like the idea of a nuclear Iraq? No, not really. But I’m not too fond of a nuclear Pakistan either, and I don’t see us invading them.

    I think the whole issue of Iraq boils down to this: Did they have the ability to do us harm? Did they have the intent to do us harm? I personally believe that the answer to those questions is “no”. Other people feel differently, and that seems to be where the real disagreement is.

  4. Iraq’s alleged WMD program was one of many stated reasons for the invasion of Iraq. Iraq’s smuggling of chemical weapons to Syria (or wherever), or destruction of facilities doesn’t change most of the reasons listed. If they had no WMDs, that wouldn’t magically put them in compliance with the 1991 cease fire, or negate Clinton’s Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.

    The media latched on to the WMD issue and made it seems as if that were the only justification for invading; once they convinced everyone of that, it was easy to delegitimize the entire war. After all, if there weren’t any WMDs, we invaded under false pretenses and are practically war criminals!

    Everyone seems to be operating under the assumption that any nation that develops nuclear capability is ripe for an invasion “to stabilize the region”.

    Let’s say Canada had chemical weapons, and they were using them to suppress the Quebecois (if only!). If we then found out that Canada, with its history of using chemical weapons on its own population, were acquiring materials that would be essential to developing nuclear weapons (and those evil Canadians weren’t cooperating with UN weapons inspectors), would you be against a Canadian war to prevent them from going nuclear? Say it were Australia suppressing some the Aborigine population; that’s farther away, and Australia nuking the outback wouldn’t affect us as much as Canada nuking Montreal would.

    I don’t have any objections to Canada developing nuclear weapons; they’re unlikely to use them capriciously. If Iraq continues on the path towards becoming a stable democracy, I won’t have any objections to their development of nukes, either.

    If you can’t tell the difference between the US using nukes in WW2 to end the war and forestall a bloody invasion of the Japanese islands, and Iraq having nukes to use against the Kurds (or Iran (after all, it wouldn’t be the first time Iraq attacked Iran), or Israel), I don’t know what to say. On the other hand, saying, “We’re the only ones who’ve used nukes in anger, so who are we to say no one else can?” makes you sound completely unserious.

  5. Iraq used have a reactor. The article doesn’t say, but it’s not easy to buy or throw away 550 MT of uranium, so my guess is that it was left over from the original program.

  6. “By itself, yellowcake uranium is nothing special. It needs to be enriched to be viable as a weapon.”

    Ok. Say they’re building an enrichment plant;

    “The plant isn’t even built yet, and besides, building an actual bomb takes far more than just enriched uranium. It’s difficult.”

    Ok. Then;

    “So what if they have an enrichment plant. That’s far different from having a bomb”

    Ok. Next;

    “So what if they have enriched uranium, that doesn’t prove they’re planning on building a bomb, and besides, building a bomb is hard.”

    Ok. Later;

    “So what if they’re building what MIGHT appear to be a bomb building facility. WE have bombs. Who says they can’t have them? What are we; the police of the world?”

    Ok, but they’ve been saying “Death to America” and “The mother of all battles is about to ensue” and stuff like that for years, and they’ve been killing people, targeting civilians for many years. Now it appears they’re building a bomb. Then;

    “So what if they have a bomb and have been threatening us? They haven’t actually launched a nuclear attack against us! How dare you call for war, you war monger you!”

    How far does this conversation go, exactly? My brother has actually said something along the lines of “So what if they nuke an American city…? and with regard to foreign wars; “Our government is evil. I don’t want them to have the power. Even if “we” win, we end up with an evil government that will be far worse and more powerful than our supposed enemies.”

    So there you have it, I guess. The Jihadists win. See, they have declared war on us, whether we acknowledge it or not. No, it was not a country that declared war on us, though Saddam was making threats and he appeared to be acting on them. It is an international movement that has declared war on us. So, what; we can’t touch any of them, because they’re all in one country or another, and no country has officially, as a country, declared war against us? Is that how this works?

    I just want the answer from the anti Iraq war people, or the anti war-in-general people, because all I hear is that the U.S. sucks because we’re out there killing people (as a country?).

    When exactly, and under what exact circumstances, are we allowed to defend ourselves? What is a plausible, actionable threat? When a missile is in the air? But maybe it won’t actually hit us, or maybe if it does hit us, it won’t explode, or maybe if it does explode, it will turn out not to have been nuclear? The Ron Paul people seem to have no answer, as if no one could really, actually, pose a real, actual threat to the U.S. I want to understand, because, honestly, the anti war folks seem like extremely, pathologically in denial to me right now. I have yet to hear a reasoned argument from a single one of them, and when I bring this conversation progression model up, all I get is red-faced rage and no more talk.

    My argument would be that if we’re going to war, we need to kick such major ass that everyone else on the planet, far from plotting our demise, is instead groveling and calling every American “Sir” or “M’am” for the next several generations, not because we’re rude or over-bearing, but just to be on the safe side. And for what it’s worth; Amnerican politicians should be treating regular citizens the same way, and for the same reasons. They should be groveling, afraid to even take a position in Congres, most of them. Then we’d have peace.

  7. Gee… and here I thought that being in violation of Armistice provisions was a prima facie justification for resumption of hostilities.

    I also love the “Iraq was posing no threat to us!” crowd… they need to see Americans in body bags before they want to do something. I guess they just don’t like us or something.

  8. My jerk of a neighbor has a shotgun; and he really, really doesn’t like me. At what point can I kick in his door and toss in a hand grenade? Heck, the cops issued a restraining order and he kind of cheats on it, plus he’s talking even worse than ever. Some guy said he bought an even bigger shotgun. Shouldn’t I go aggressively defend myself, and shoot his dog, his wife and his kids, too?

    Iraq was a chess move, played out in blood. Good, bad…? I don’t know about the Big Picture. I don’t play chess. Kid comes back from that mess with a leg blown off, I’m sure not gonna be mad at him; but I wonder WTF our government really bought with his leg and if there wasn’t a better deal to be made.

  9. “My jerk of a neighbor has a shotgun; and he really, really doesn’t like me. At what point can I kick in his door and toss in a hand grenade?” A Grenade might be a bit of a forward move, still when can you shoot him?

    “Heck, the cops issued a restraining order and he kind of cheats on it, plus he’s talking even worse than ever.”

    Then.

    And of course the restraining order is against HIM, not his house or the members of his household.

    The Peace treaty was against the nation of Iraq. Civil law and international law don’t really hold well for analogies. But in yours you can technically keep calling the police to have the shotgun removed under the agreement of the restraining order law. (I have mixed feelings about this law personally…but I also have strong feelings against many of the laws I comply with, so my feelings are moot)

    If the police won’t disarm him, and he enters your property or within the distance of the protection order while making open threats you may take his word for it and act on your own self-defense.

    Muddy, but how it works.

  10. “If you can’t tell the difference between the US using nukes in WW2 to end the war and forestall a bloody invasion of the Japanese islands, and Iraq having nukes to use against the Kurds (or Iran (after all, it wouldn’t be the first time Iraq attacked Iran), or Israel), I don’t know what to say. On the other hand, saying, “We’re the only ones who’ve used nukes in anger, so who are we to say no one else can?” makes you sound completely unserious.”

    I understand the difference. But don’t you think it’s just a wee bit hypocritical for the nation with the most nukes to tell other nations they can’t have them? What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if China had nukes and we didn’t. If we started a nuclear development program as a deterrent to them, would they be justified in preemptively invading the U.S. to prevent us from going nuclear?

    “How far does this conversation go, exactly? ….”

    For me, personally, it goes to the point that someone hasn’t just made idle threats, but that they have the means to carry out those threats. Saddam may not have liked us, but he didn’t pose a threat. I view him as less of a Timothy McVeigh and more of a batshit crazy old man who shakes his cane at you while shouting “get off my lawn”!

    “So there you have it, I guess. The Jihadists win. See, they have declared war on us, whether we acknowledge it or not. No, it was not a country that declared war on us, though Saddam was making threats and he appeared to be acting on them. It is an international movement that has declared war on us. So, what; we can’t touch any of them, because they’re all in one country or another, and no country has officially, as a country, declared war against us? Is that how this works?”

    I see. So the jihadists were in Iraq, and they don’t like us, and THAT’S why we needed to invade. But if Saddam smuggled all of his weapons into Syria, wouldn’t that mean that the same network of jihadists still have the weapons that posed such a threat in the first place? Why haven’t we invaded Syria to get them? Most of the 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, so it’s obvious that there’s a big contingent of jihadists there. So why haven’t we invaded Saudi Arabia? North Korea threatens us all the time. Surely there are some crazy asian jihadists there, so we better invade them too. We know that there are terror cells within the United States itself. I’m not sure how invading ourselves is going to work.

    I just want the answer from the anti Iraq war people, or the anti war-in-general people, because all I hear is that the U.S. sucks because we’re out there killing people (as a country?).

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally believe that we can’t just invade a country because its leader doesn’t like us, when he poses no clear threat to our safety. If Saddam had actually had the means to do us harm, and if he had demonstrated the intent to do us harm, then it would be a different story.

    When exactly, and under what exact circumstances, are we allowed to defend ourselves? What is a plausible, actionable threat?

    That’s the $50,000 question. In my view, the answer must at least include the ability to do harm. I have not seen evidence to support the assertion that Iraq posed an actual threat.

    My argument would be that if we’re going to war, we need to kick such major ass that everyone else on the planet, far from plotting our demise, is instead groveling and calling every American “Sir” or “M’am” for the next several generations, not because we’re rude or over-bearing, but just to be on the safe side.

    We kicked Saddam’s ass pretty handily the first time, and yet here we are again. We’ve been kicking ass and “spreading Democracy” for a good long while now, yet we seem to have more foreign enemies than ever before. So maybe, just maybe, the “ass kicking” strategy needs to be rethought?

    I also love the “Iraq was posing no threat to us!” crowd… they need to see Americans in body bags before they want to do something. I guess they just don’t like us or something.

    Actually, we don’t like to see Americans in body bags, which is why the nearly 40,000 dead or wounded since the invasion is such a huge loss.

  11. “So maybe, just maybe, the “ass kicking” strategy needs to be rethought?

    We’ve been dawdling in Iraq and Afghanistan for 9 years. W.W. II only took six years of American commitment, and we didn’t create more Nazis and more Imperial Japanese either. Both Germany and Japan are now allies, and they are both democracies, for what it’s worth.

    So here’s the deal there; Germany and Japan had to be defeated to a level that can only be describes as devastation, far beyond all hope of recovery. That’s the definition of victory, horrible as that reality is. Anything less and we see what we’re now seeing– “Paper Tiger” references toward the U.S., and constant regrouping of the enemy, political correctness enforced in our own country, etc. It’s lose/lose.

    “My jerk of a neighbor has a shotgun; and he really, really doesn’t like me. At what point can I kick in his door and toss in a hand grenade?”

    Wrong analogy, I think. A more realistic one would be; the neighbor has already attacked one of your other neighbors. The cops did nothing, so you rescued the other neighbor. The guy with the shotgun has since been openly threatening you, and the cops do nothing. His friends have already killed members of your family. He threatens you more, conspiring with his friends to amass poisons and incendiaries to do you in, and the cops then merely place surveillance teams around his property. He then successfully kicks the surveillance teams off. Threatens you more, and his friends, some of whom have killed members of your family, cheer him on and jeer at you.

    Something like that.

    As for killing his wife and kids? Only if they’re participating or if there’s no other option. The U.S. stands far and away, alone in Her commitment to avoid collateral damage lately, even if it means losing and appearing weak. I submit that it is the appearance of weakness that’s “creating more terrorists”. I further submit that that is axiomatic. Ever see a criminal attack the toughest guy in sight, or is it more likely they attack the most vulnerable-looking?

    Seriously; I prefer clarity to agreement (to rob a phrase from Dennis Prager). The problem is; I haven’t heard any clarity for the argument that we should do….What? I haven’t heard anyone on the anti war side tell us clearly what we should do, much less why.

    I might even agree with you, if I could find a clear and coherent case made, preferably with historical references to support it, as I have given. I just can’t tell at the moment because the clarity isn’t there. As I say; I don’t even know what the anti war side even wants, unless it’s to retreat within our borders and wait for the inevitable.

  12. Both mustard gas shells and sarin nerve agents were found in Iraq. There are of course very few mentions of this in mainstream media outlets as it does not fit their narrative, but they were found neverless.

  13. Discussion is dying down so I thought I’d inject some humor I thought about while watching yet another expose on no-knock raids.
    “My jerk of a neighbor has a shotgun; and he really, really doesn’t like me. At what point can I kick in his door and toss in a hand grenade?”

    Why bother…tell the local Po-po he might have an ounce of pot in his night stand and that night the local SWAT will toss in a flash bang and shoot him and his dog!

    You can sit on your porch and eat popcorn!

  14. We’ve been dawdling in Iraq and Afghanistan for 9 years. W.W. II only took six years of American commitment, and we didn’t create more Nazis and more Imperial Japanese either. Both Germany and Japan are now allies, and they are both democracies, for what it’s worth.

    So here’s the deal there; Germany and Japan had to be defeated to a level that can only be describes as devastation, far beyond all hope of recovery.

    I’m not sure I understand how we could devastate Iraq and Afghanistan any worse than conditions already are. With Germany and Japan you’re talking about taking countries that were first-world, near-superpowers, with huge amounts of infrastructure and manufacturing and reducing them to rubble. Iraq and Afghanistan are mostly rubble already. It’s easy to say “bomb ’em back to the stone age”, but what if they’re already there? They have very little left to lose, which is why pissing them off is so dangerous.

    You’re also talking about two entirely different kinds of warfare. In WWII it was relatively simple to kill the enemy. They wore uniforms, they took positions based upon strategic military need, they stayed separate (for the most part) from civilians. Now we’re dealing with guerrilla warfare against small groups of people who blend in to society. Iraq’s regular army was easy enough to defeat, but if you’re talking about taking out all of these jihadist groups, I frankly don’t see how it’s possible without simply killing every man, woman, and child. And if you think there’s anti-war and anti-American sentiment NOW, just imagine the fallout from something like that.

    I haven’t heard any clarity for the argument that we should do….What? I haven’t heard anyone on the anti war side tell us clearly what we should do, much less why.

    Until there’s a clear and present threat (which I’ve said I’ve said many times, I don’t believe there was), maybe we shouldn’t do anything. There always seems to be this overwhelming desire to “do something”, without foreseeing what the consequences of it will be. We had to “do something” in Vietnam. A lot of our men got killed and the enemy is still there. We had to “do something” in Korea. More of our men got killed and the enemy is still there (and, by all accounts, more crazy and dangerous than ever). We had to “do something” about the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. This time we tried to be smart and get the mujahideen to fight the Soviets for us. Years later, one of the guys we assisted and financed would plan and execute the worst terror attack in history against us. In the early 60’s we had to “do something” about the pro-Communist, anti-American government in Iraq (a democratically elected government, I might add). So, we backed Saddam Hussein and his Ba’ath party so that they could overthrow the government. We all know how that story turned out.

    Every time we “do something” it ends up blowing up in our faces. At some point perhaps we should try not meddling in the affairs of others?

    You say you want clarity from the anti-war crowd. I would also like some clarity from the pro-war side: How do we “win”? What constitutes winning, and how do we achieve it? We’ve been in Afghanistan for going on a decade now with no end in sight. When is our job there done? We went into Iraq, disposed of the dictator who was threatening us, and instituted a government of individuals hand picked by us. At what point can we finally leave?

    Both mustard gas shells and sarin nerve agents were found in Iraq. There are of course very few mentions of this in mainstream media outlets as it does not fit their narrative, but they were found neverless.

    I’ve heard this before, but never seen any sort of proof. Do you have a source you can cite?

  15. Whether the WMD we were looking for was shipped to Syria or not, there has not ever been any question about whether or not Saddam had and used weapons of mass destruction. UN NGO’s and what many people regard as “reliable” mass media showed footage of the aftermath of his gassing of the Kurds in the North and the UN oversaw Iraqi court proceedings that confirmed the deaths of hundreds (It may have been thousands I know that the final number the court came to was much smaller then originally claimed, smaller then what I believe happened.) of Kurds in the North of Iraq by chemical gas. Back before Bush took up the cause of WMD far left media was passing around images and stories of the “green rain”. Now we get “there were no weapons of mass destruction”. It’s newspeak.

    Wether we should have invaded or not is quite possibly a seperate question. -Boyd

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