"Everyone is very happy to have this safely out of Iraq," said a senior U. official who outlined the nearly three-month operation to The Associated Press.

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The lead-enclosed irradiation units, used to decontaminate food and other items, contain elements of high radioactivity that could potentially be used in a weapon, according to the official.

Their Ottawa-based manufacturer, MDS Nordion, took them back for free, the official said.

A CIA officer, Valerie Plame, claimed her identity was leaked to journalists to retaliate against her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote that he had found no evidence to support assertions that Iraq tried to buy additional yellowcake from Niger.

A federal investigation led to the conviction of I.

The Iraqi government sold the yellowcake to a Canadian uranium producer, Cameco Corp., in a transaction the official described as worth "tens of millions of dollars." A Cameco spokesman, Lyle Krahn, declined to discuss the price, but said the yellowcake will be processed at facilities in Ontario for use in energy-producing reactors. that we have taken (the yellowcake) from a volatile region into a stable area to produce clean electricity," he said.

Secret mission The deal culminated more than a year of intense diplomatic and military initiatives — kept hushed in fear of ambushes or attacks once the convoys were under way: first carrying 3,500 barrels by road to Baghdad, then on 37 military flights to the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia and finally aboard a U. And, in a symbolic way, the mission linked the current attempts to stabilize Iraq with some of the high-profile claims about Saddam's weapons capabilities in the buildup to the 2003 invasion.

A top special forces commander said: 'Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret).' But Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi said that while Iraqi forces were close to retaking the mosque, they were still some 20 metres away.

Iraqi state TV carried a banner on Thursday announcing the 'fall of the mythical state' - a play in Arabic on the ISIS title 'state of the caliphate.' Iraq's PM is expected to deliver a victory speech in Mosul later today.

Iraqi government officials sought buyers on the commercial market, where uranium prices spiked at about 0 per pound last year. The Cameco deal was reached earlier this year, the official said. S.-led crews began removing the yellowcake from the Saddam-era containers — some leaking or weakened by corrosion — and reloading the material into about 3,500 secure barrels.

In April, truck convoys started moving the yellowcake from Tuwaitha to Baghdad's international airport, the official said. On June 3, an American ship left the island for Montreal, said the official, who declined to give further details about the operation.

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program — a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.