Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Palestinian Officials Have Questions on Arafat's Speculated Polonium Poisoning
Palestinian officials intend to question scientists and medical officials in a first step toward the possible exhumation of the remains of deceased leader Yasser Arafat, after a Swiss laboratory revealed he might have died from polonium poisoning and not a stroke as was originally announced, the Associated Press reported on Thursday (see GSN, July 5).
Recent laboratory testing by the Institut de Radiophysique in Switzerland of bodily fluids found on Arafat's personal effects turned up abnormally high levels of polonium-210 -- the same radioactive isotope that killed Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Arafat's widow has called for his body to be dug up and his bones examined for the presence of the rare and highly radioactive element.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he supports a fresh medical examination of the body but it appears that a final determination on the matter has yet to be made. Abbas official Nimr Hamad on Thursday said a group of specialists would travel to Europe to talk to scientists of the Institut de Radiophysique and health officials from the military hospital in France where Abbas passed away in November 2004.
Full support from Arafat's surviving family members must also likely be attained before an exhumation can be conducted. Arafat's nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, in an interview with al-Jazeera said he thinks the conclusions of the Swiss laboratory, without a full autopsy, are enough to show his uncle was assassinated.
Were the former Fatah party leader found to be poisoned, an early suspect would likely be the Israeli government, as Tel Aviv long viewed Arafat as a thorn in its side. Palestinians who had contact with Arafat could also fall under suspicion.
Israel rejects any speculation that it was involved in a plot to kill Arafat.
"Israel did not kill him, I say that with certainty," said Dov Weisglas, a former senior staffer to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in an interview with Israel TV. "The man was very, very sick."
Weisglas speculated that the Palestinian leader could have died as the result of a medical mishap in France.
"What happened in France is they gave him a partial blood infusion, he recovered, then they gave him a full blood transfusion. That was probably a medical mistake, and he went into shock and never recovered," he said (Karin Laub, Associated Press/Bloomberg BusinessWeek, July 5).
Nov. 27, 2012
Several U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements are set to expire in the next four years, and a long list of nuclear newcomers are interested in concluding new agreements with the United States. Jessica C. Varnum examines the debate over whether stricter nonproliferation preconditions for concluding these new and renewal "123" nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States would enhance or undermine their value as instruments of U.S. nonproliferation policy.
Sept. 5, 2012
Mo-99 is a radioisotope critical to cancer and other medical treatments, subject in recent years to supply shortages and often produced using weapons-useable highly enriched uranium. While nuclear security would benefit from more widespread use of HEU-free processes, phaseout of HEU must be accomplished without undue market disruption.This issue brief discusses the evolving structure of the Mo-99 market and assesses executive, legislative, and international efforts to balance the trade-offs between security of medical isotope supply and nuclear security.
This article provides an overview of Israel's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.