Israeli bombing 'radioactive'

2006-10-28 07:48
London - Scientists studying samples of soil thrown up by Israeli bombing in Lebanon say the soil particles have shown high radiation levels, suggesting uranium-based munitions were used.

The samples were taken from two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri and have been sent for further analysis to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire, England, for mass spectrometry used by the British ministry of defence, reported The Independent on Saturday.

The samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures", Chris Busby, the British scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, was quoted as saying.

The ministry has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples, reported the newspaper.

In his initial report, Busby said there were two possible reasons for the contamination.

"The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or experimental weapon, such as a thermobaric weapon, based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash," said Busby.

"The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium."

A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium, according to the newspaper.

The 34-day Israeli offensive against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon left at least 1 287 people, nearly all civilians, dead and 4 054 wounded, according to an AFP count based on official Lebanese figures.

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