Canadian Cabal masterminded plot to get Iraq's uranium!
Well, no: I really don't think so. But it sure makes a good story.
And, those wild statements are based on facts: facts that indicate more hope for Iraq's future than we generally hear.
News broke recently, that the American military smuggled tons of uranium ore (yellowcake, more precisely) out of Iraq and into Canada. A Canadian firm paid Iraq for the ore, and the Iraqi government says it will reimburse America for at least part of the shipping costs.
Smuggled? Well, yes, in a way. The yellowcake was taken out of Iraq very, very quietly, and I can see why. Between protesters and people who would love to get their hands on the stuff, secrecy is, I think, quite sensible in this case. Uranium ore can be refined into fuel for nuclear power plants - that's what the Canadian company is planning to do - or, it can be used to make 'dirty bombs.'
Iraq can use cash now. Decades under Saddam Hussein didn't do a lot of good to the Iraqi economy, and the the last few years haven't been a picnic either, with terrorists doing their level best to kill the people and destroy the things that could put Iraq in its feet again.
(The uranium ore is left over from Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. Reuters carefully points out: "The Bush administration's claim that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons was a primary justification it gave for the invasion to topple his regime, but no evidence has been found that Saddam continued a nuclear weapons programme after 1991.")
There's more good news from Iraq, too: It's in these excerpts from the news - I'll be back after that, with my take on the topics.
Some recent headlines about Iraq are quite familiar:
- "Seven killed in bombings in northern Iraq"
CNN (July 7, 2008)
- "BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Seven people were killed Monday in bombings in northern Iraq, police said.
- "A suicide car bomber struck an Awakening Council checkpoint south of Samarra, killing four members of the U.S.-backed group and wounding six other people.
- "The Awakening Council has emerged as a foe of al Qaeda in Iraq...."
- "Iraq removes uranium left over from Saddam era"
Reuters (July 7, 2008)
- "BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's government has removed 550 tonnes of natural uranium left over from Saddam Hussein's era and sold it to a Canadian company, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
- "The uranium, called yellowcake, had been stored in a compound at Tuwaitha, south of Baghdad, which was once the centre of Saddam's nuclear weapons programme.
- "A U.S. embassy spokeswoman confirmed the U.S. military helped safely ship the uranium out of the country.
- " 'The Iraqi government decided to get rid of the uranium, which amounted to 550 tonnes, because of its potentially harmful affects on Iraq and the region and because it causes pollution,' Dabbagh said on Iraqiya state television late on Sunday...."
- "500 tons of uranium shipped from Iraq, Pentagon says"
CNN (July 7, 2008)
- "WASHINGTON (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...."
- "Admiral says security in Iraq improving"
CNN (July 7, 2008)
- "WASHINGTON (CNN) — Iraq is making positive steps forward in security and stability, according to an assessment by the U.S. military’s highest ranking officer.
- "Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said violence was down to its lowest point in four years and a decision whether to draw down the number of non-surge troops would come later in the year if stability continued...."
- "Iraq PM Wants Short-Term U.S. Agreement"
CBS News (July 7, 2008)
- "(CBS/AP) Iraq's prime minister said Monday his country is now proposing an interim deal with the United States on the presence of American troops instead of a more formal agreement — and wants to include a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.
- "Some type of agreement is needed to keep U.S. troops in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires at year's end. But many Iraqi lawmakers had criticized the government's attempt to negotiate a formal status of forces agreement, worried that U.S. demands would threaten the country's sovereignty.
- "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the memorandum "now on the table" includes a formula for the withdrawal of U.S. troops — an idea opposed by President Bush...."
- "UAE to cancel Iraq's $7 billion debt"
CNN (July 6, 2008)
- "DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Dubai has forgiven the nearly $7 billion Baghdad owes it, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced Sunday. UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan promised to 'put out these debts,' appoint an ambassador to Baghdad, and 'help Iraq building the holy shrines that were targeted by the terrorists,' al-Maliki said in a written statement.
- "Al-Maliki and the sheikh met Sunday, the first day of a two-day official visit. Al-Maliki was accompanied by the Iraqi ministers of Interior, Commerce and Industry.
- " 'Our biggest challenge is now the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the economic situation and to provide services to our citizens,' al-Maliki said.
- "Debt relief is a major issue for Iraq, and the United States has urged other nations to forgive Iraqi debt, most of which is held by Arab states, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt said in late May....
- "Iraqi PM says government has defeated terrorism"
International Herald Tribune (July 5, 2008)
- "BAGHDAD: Iraq's prime minister said Saturday that the government has defeated terrorism in the country, a sign of growing confidence after recent crackdowns against Sunni extremists and Shiite militias.
- "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched the crackdowns to extend the authority of the government over areas in Baghdad and elsewhere that have largely been under the control of armed groups since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
- " 'They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it,' al-Maliki said. 'But thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them.' ..."
About al-Maliki's leaving out the coalition in his litany of Iraqi groups who defeated terrorism in Iraq: I'll give that a pass. Iraqis have a great deal to be proud of right now, and the Prime Minister's comments emphasize that it's their country now.
The same goes for the Iraqi government's apparent preference for a short-term security deal. Between the stink being raised in America, over Iraq being freed from a brutal dictator, and Iraq's reasonable desire to emphasize its independence, a short-term deal like that makes sense. We can always re-negotiate, later.