http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080707.NUKE07//TPSt ory/Front NUCLEAR POWER: U.S. MILITARY MEDIATED SALE Iraqi nuclear fuel stash quietly shipped to Quebec OMAR EL AKKAD AND ANDY HOFFMAN With a report from the Associated Press July 7, 2008 OTTAWA AND TORONTO -- Almost everything about the deal made for spy novel fodder: a multimillion-dollar shipment of yellowcake uranium, the final vestiges of Saddam Hussein's once-hyped nuclear program, quietly moved from Baghdad to Montreal via a controversial U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean, all done under orders of absolute secrecy. But for all the cloak and dagger, it was a relatively straightforward transaction. "It was business as usual," Transport Canada spokeswoman Marie-Anyk Côté said of the deal that saw Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp. purchase some 550 tonnes of yellowcake, which is used to make fuel for nuclear reactors. The volatile, but often transported, cargo arrived in Montreal by ship on Saturday. Although Cameco says the U.S. military, which helped organize the sale, asked for the deal to be done in secrecy, the Canadian government agency that monitors such transports was less paranoid. Ms. Côté said Transport Canada gave a lot of thought to where the shipment was coming from - perhaps the most volatile place in the world. However, if the agency did have concerns, she added, the shipment wouldn't have gone ahead. Still, existing laws for shipping radioactive material meant the delivery was subject to myriad restrictions - everything from packaging to the weight of the shipment to the emergency-response plan were tightly regulated. Uranium is classified under Class 7 - radioactive materials - in the transportation of dangerous goods regulations. Although yellowcake could possibly be used in a weapons-creation process, it does not pose a high risk if stored and handled properly. With major mining operations in Saskatchewan, Cameco is the world's largest producer of uranium. Company spokesman Lyle Krahn said Cameco was contacted by the U.S. State Department "earlier this year," and asked to join in the bidding process for the Iraqi material. Although the deal is technically with the Iraqi government - Baghdad gets the money - Washington had a significant driving role in the deal. The yellowcake, all of which is believed to date before 1991, originated at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex south of Baghdad. Military and diplomatic officials initially considered sending the uranium to Kuwait's port on the Persian Gulf, but such a route would pass through Shia-controlled areas of Iraq within close proximity to insurgents. Kuwait was also reluctant to proceed. After Cameco secured the contract to buy the uranium, U.S.-led crews began moving the yellowcake from corroded, decades-old compartments to about 3,500 secure barrels. In April, convoys moved the shipment from Tuwaitha to Baghdad's international airport. It took two weeks and 37 flights in May to transport the cargo to a U.S. military base in Diego Garcia, a tiny British territory in the Indian Ocean, before it was shipped to Montreal. Cameco would not disclose how much it is paying for the 550 tonnes of Iraqi "yellowcake," but Mr. Krahn indicated Cameco would make money on the deal. That would suggest Cameco paid less than market rates for the uranium. The spot price for the metal currently stands at $59 (U.S.) a pound while the so-called "term price" is about $80 a pound. At $59 a pound, the material would be worth about $72-million. At $80 a pound, about $97-million.