Last Update on a Scientific Approach: October 20
An examination which began in 2012 has raised suspicion that former Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat might have been poisoned using Polonium 210, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 138 days. Due to that rather short half-life, it should be difficult to detect traces of the isotope so many years after its application in rather small doses. On the other hand, any poisoning using Polonium 210 would imply the help of specialists in a nuclear facility and, most probably, of government authorities as such isotope needs to be freshly produced in an environment that is usually under the strict control of national authorities.
Only to remember that the case of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko and who had obviously been poisoned with Polonium 210 in his British exile, necessarily culminated in accusations of the Russian leadership under Vladimir Putin. In the case of Arafat it might be the Israeli government this time that would pass as the most plausible culprit, even though Arafat had made himself many enemies, including those in his own ranks.
Russian expert: Not enough to conclude that Arafat died from poisoning by radioactive Polonium.
The data scheme:
On November 27  local time at the Arafat mausoleum in Ramallah, situated on the westbank of river Jordan, the coffin of Palestine's former leader Yassir Arafat was opened and samples from the skeleton were taken.
A telegram by China News Network on October 14  and which is referring to a Russian media report [from the same day] says a Russian expert, well-known in the field of nuclear radiation, considers the probability as very low to discover the radioactive isotope Polonium 210 on, both, corpse and [other] remainings of former Palestinian leader Arafat who had died in 2004.
The British journal "Lancet" [had] published the research results of a Swiss doctor proving that Arafat probably died from poisoning by radioactive Polonium 210.
[Source: China News 中新网 on October 14, 2013]
Some more information on the above mentioned Swiss research can be found in the following excerpt taken from a French source:
Après avoir analysé les effets personnels d'Arafat, les scientifiques de l'Institut de radiophysique (IRA) de Lausanne ont en effet relevé que "plusieurs échantillons contenant des traces de fluides corporels (sang et urine) contenaient une radioactivité plus élevée et inexpliquée au polonium 210". C'est cette substance hautement toxique qui avait tué en 2006 Alexandre Litvinenko, l'ex-agent du KGB devenu opposant à Poutine.
After having analyzed the personal remainings of Arafat, the scientists from the Institute of Radiophysics (IRA) in Lausanne in deed discovered that "some specimen containing traces of body fluids (i.e. blood and urine) showed an increased and inexplicable radioactivity related to Polonium 210". It was this highly toxic substance that killed in 2006 Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB agent who had become an opponent of Putin.
Arafat poisoned ? Experts confirm it's "possible".
[Photo showing Arafat's mausoleum in Ramallah.]
[Source: Metronews - France on October 14, 2013]
Editor's Note: Scientific Approach
Po 210 is an alpha emitter that has a half-life of 138.4 days. It decays directly to its stable daughter isotope, Pb 206 which is simple lead. During that decay, one milligram of Po 210 emits about as many alpha particles per second as 5 grams of Radium Ra 226. It can therefore be considered as extremely hazardous to human tissue, if Polonium has been incorporated. An external contact with Polonium, however, would provide no danger at all, because dead cell material on the outside of human skin would serve as a shield against further intrusion of alpha particles into healthy tissue.
A detection of very small amounts of lead (Pb), the final product of Polonium decay, is generally possible with modern multi-channel x-ray spectroscopy but would not deliver any clue hinting at its origin. Any elevated amount of lead could therefore be related to environmental influence or, let's say, to the use of leaded fuel in some old-fashioned Palestinian cars. However, things could be different, if it was possible to detect different isotopes of one single element. This would require a high-end equipment available in any institute for radiophysics.
This is just showing the sophisticated aspect of a Polonium poisoning leaving no bloody dagger on the scene of crime.
Here now the Russian expert speaking as quoted by China News:
［专家］说：“如果阿尔法粒子衰变，形成新原子核，在低频环境下能够发现原子核数量和衰变链。这种情况不可能查明，哪一种同位素导致衰变。很可能是钋210 ”。他指出， 目前有关研究数据公开的信息不多，不足以做出单一的结论。
[The expert] said: " In case of an alpha particle decay, a new atomic nucleus is formed. In a low frequency environment [*] its quantity and chain of decay can be found. That state [of development] cannot be verified by investigation as the isotope [of origin] is subject to decay. Most probably it is Polonium 210. " He pointed out that, at present, there is not much information made public on related research data, being not enough to [release] one single conclusion.
* = This could be a frequency environment comprising the distinct x-ray frequencies emitted from such newly formed atomic nucleus. It then comes to x-ray analysis using a high-end multi-channel analyzer that would allow to detect different atomic species. Such instruments are being used in radioactivity research where a maximum resolution is needed.
The determination of different isotopes belonging to the same atomic species, however, should require another technique. Now, it is known that nuclear magnetic resonance NMR and mass spectrometry MS are usually applied for isotopic determination. A rather small amount of human tissue and the very low concentration of lead to be expected in such specimen, should then require some additional refining of preparation and measurement techniques.
As similar problems have already occured before, there is a good chance to find an appropriate technique while searching scientific publications. That's how I found a publication on " a reliable procedure for picogram-quantity Pb isotopic determination (Pb-204, Pb-206, Pb-207, and Pb-208) on a multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer ". The technique described here was used to determine lead isotopes in coral skeleton, a problem which resembles much the determination of lead isotopes in human skeleton:
While it is generally accepted that Polonium Po-210 is subject to an alpha decay, it only needs to detect an obviously elevated amount of the stable lead isotope Pb-206 in human tissue in order to conclude that a Polonium poisoning might have happened. Naturally occuring lead usually contains some 24% of Pb-206 which doesn't enter into the human blood circuit except in very rare cases when humans come close to lead metal or its by-products. At least, Arafat was not working at a gazoline pump serving leaded fuel ...
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