African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Mauritius expresses concern with radioactive material stocked on Diego Garcia

Posted by African Press International on July 10, 2008

The Mauritian government on Tuesday expressed its apprehension that the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean had been used to stock radioactive materials in May.

APA learnt in the Mauritian capital Port Louis that the United States government had during the whole month of May organised a shuttle of US air force planes to carry radioactive material, known as yellow cake uranium, from Iraq to Diego Garcia. According to sources, the material was on the 3rd June transferred on board a ship which reached the Canadian port of Montreal during the weekend.

Initially, the first lap of the transfer operation of the 550 tons of yellow cake cargo from the Iraqi town of Tuwaitha, 20 km south of Baghdad to Diego Garcia was to be made by land through Kuwait.

The material would have then been transhipped in a Kuwaiti port after which the ship would have passed through the Persian Gulf on its way to Canada, but the Kuwaiti authorities were reluctant to open their borders to the shipment as it had to pass through territory controlled by insurgents. Finally, the American authorities decided to airlift the dangerous material to Diego Garcia as they also feared that the cargo could be hijacked in the Persian Gulf.

An official at the Mauritius ministry of Foreign Affairs told APA that the Mauritius government will lodge an official protest with the American government, further stating that Mauritius still lays claims to the islands of the Chagos Archipelago. He added that yellow cake is highly dangerous as it can be enriched for use in nuclear reactors and for making atomic bombs.

The British authorities expelled the population of the Chagos Archipelago in 1965 to Seychelles and Mauritius in order to make way for a huge American military airbase, the largest of its kind outside of the United States.

Thirty members of the Chagossian refugees in Mauritius are presently in the British capital London to contest the decision of the British government to prevent them from resettling in the archipelago.

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API/APA

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