'Yemen's radioactive products were easy al-Qaeda targets': Wikileaks

Posted By: Anita Nair
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Sana'a, Dec 20 (ANI): A senior Yemeni government official had told US diplomats that poor security at the country's main store of radioactive products could give terrorists an easy access to dangerous materials, according to the whistleblower website 'Wikileaks'.

The Guardian quoted the official as saying that the lone security guard at Yemen's national atomic energy commission (NAEC) facility had been removed from his post and that its only closed circuit TV security camera had broken down six months earlier and was never fixed.

"Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen's nuclear material," the official warned, in a cable dated 9 January 2010 sent from the Sana'a embassy to the Central Investigative Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the department of homeland security as well as the US secretary of state in Washington and others.

The cable, classified as secret by the US ambassador Stephen Seche, and sent during the immediate aftermath of the Christmas Day bomb, describes how the "worried" official urged Washington to convince the Yemen government "to remove all materials from the country until they can be better secured, or immediately improve security measures at the NAEC facility".

The cable said the international community fear that the facility, which holds large quantities of radioactive material used by hospitals, local universities for agricultural research and in oilfields, could be used to make "dirty"bombs that would be dispersed over a wide area.

The paper quoted international experts as saying today that the lack of security at the Yemen facility would be a "high priority" for the US government.

"If dispersed by terrorists it could make a very nasty dirty bomb capable of contaminating a wide area," Matthew Bunn, a former White House science adviser who specialises in nuclear threat and terrorism, said.

Yemen, the Arab world's poorest nation, has emerged as al-Qaida's most active base, after Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also the breathing ground for Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), the group behind a series of attacks on western targets, including the failed airline cargo bomb plot in October and the attempt to bring down a US passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day last year. (ANI)

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