According to the Guardian, Palastinian authorities have agreed to allow the body of Yasser Arafat to be exhumed and tested for poisoning by radioactive isotopes. This follows a nine-month investigation by a journalist from Al Jazeera who learned that radioactive substances were found on the Palastinian leader's clothing and toothbrush when he was examined by the Institut de Radiophisique in Switzerland. It is reported that the substances found were consistent with exposure to Polonium 210. (Probably the presence of known decay products of Polonium 210 which has a half-life of only 138 days.)
"I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids," François Bochud, director of the Lausanne institute, said in the documentary.
Polonium is a very rare element which, although it can be found in small quantities in phosphate fertilizer, requires a very sophisticated lab to produce. The production is almost entirely done by national governments.
While polonium is a vigorous emitter of alpha particles, it does not emit gamma radiation. Alpha particles are not capable of penetrating very far beyond the skin and alpha emitters generally have to be ingested to cause death.
For more, including a link to the Al Jazeera video, see rawstory.
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