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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Truck Carrying Dangerous Radioactive Material Stolen in Mexico

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday that a truck carrying “a dangerous radioactive source” used in radiotherapy treatment was stolen in Tepojaco, north of Mexico City, while being taken from a hospital to a storage centre. Experts say the radioactive source, cobalt-60, could be used to make a dirty bomb, where there is no nuclear explosion, but a conventional blast spreads radiation from vaporised radioactive material. “At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged”, said a statement by the nuclear watchdog. “Cobalt-60 has figured in several serious accidents, some of them fatal. If dispersed, cobalt-60 or other radioactive source material could cause radiation poisoning locally”, said Mark Hibbs, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment think tank interviewed by the Reuters news agency.

Hezbollah Senior Commander Assassinated in Beirut

The Hezbollah militant Shia group announced on Wednesday that one of its commanders, Hassan al-Laqis, was killed outside his Beirut home late on Tuesday. “Around midnight on Tuesday, one of the commanders of resistance, Hassan Al Laqis, was assassinated in front of his house in the Saint Therese district of Hadath, as he returned from work. The direct accusation falls on the enemy Israel”, said a statement released by the group. Lebanese sources said Al-Laqis was fired upon while still in his car as he arrived at the residential building where he lived. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but did not survive his injuries. “Israel has nothing to do with this incident. These automatic accusations are an innate reflex with Hezbollah. They don’t need evidence, they don’t need facts, they just blame anything on Israel”, said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Riots and Looting as Police Go on Strike in Argentina

The city of Córdoba in the centre of Argentina suffered a night of looting and riots as provincial police officers went on strike on Tuesday. Officers in Argentina’s second largest city went on strike to demand a pay rise, prompting gangs of youths to take to the streets and target supermarkets and smaller stores, who attempted to shut their doors to prevent the looting. Elsewhere in the province, in Glew, a Chinese store owner was shot dead after he attempted to stop rioters from entering his supermarket brandishing a gun. He shot two men and was killed in the firefight, after which the looters set fire to the premises. Córdoba provincial governor José Manuel De La Sota said on Wednesday that he had closed a deal with the striking officers and that they would return to their patrols as soon as possible. “This was not a social collapse, but the activity of a bunch of criminals”, he said.

IAEA Praises Fukushima Clean-Up

The International Atomic Agency (IAEA) has praised Japan for the progress made in cleaning up the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but has said that the process was still “extremely complicated” and that more needs to be done to deal with the significant quantities of radioactive water still present at the site. “The team considers that since our previous mission in April this year, Japan has achieved good progress in improving its strategy and in allocating necessary resources to conduct a safe decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power station”, said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA team leader in Japan. Nuclear fuel is being removed from reactor four, but the BBC’s correspondent in Tokyo, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, says there is still no decision on what to do with the radioactive water. There is local resistance to releasing it into the sea even if it can be cleaned up.

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