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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is investigating reports that Israel used uranium-based weapons during this summer's war in Lebanon, the British newspaper The Independent reported Monday morning.
According to the report, twenty UN experts have been working with Lebanese environmentalists for the past two weeks analyzing various samples. They are expected to present their findings in December.
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The report also quotes Middle East UNEP director Butros al-Harb during an interview with a Lebanese radio station.
"If uranium was used, we will find out and we will announce it. We cannot confirm anything now, but we will wait for results," al-Harb said.
The IDF on Saturday denied a report by the British newspaper claiming that Israel used uranium-based munitions, including uranium-tipped bunker-buster bombs, during the war.
"The IDF Spokesman's Office wants to make it clear that no munitions containing uranium were used in the war in Lebanon," an IDF spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.
According to the report, scientists found two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs which showed "elevated radiation signatures." "Scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbullah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon," it said.
"The weapon was [either] some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (e.g., a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash ...[or it] was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium," Dr. Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, told The Independent.