The U.S. military has finished delivering 550 tons of yellowcake uranium — left over from the late Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons-making era — from Iraq to a uranium trading company in Canada, Pentagon officials confirmed to FOX News on Monday.
Cameco, which sells the natural uranium, also called "yellowcake," to electricity-producing utilities around the world, bought the uranium for an undisclosed price several weeks ago.
To assist in the sale, the U.S. military transported the uranium over the weekend to "ensure its safe transit," senior Pentagon officials said.
"The Department of Defense was responsible for the safe and secure transfer of materials from Iraq to the country of purchase," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "The cargo was transported by convoy from Tuwaitha nuclear research facility in Baghdad to a secure location in the Green Zone" and then loaded onto a C-17 and flown to an intermediate location via 37 sorties, he said.
Once at that intermediate location, which Whitman declined to reveal, the cargo was shipped to a third country where it was loaded onto a U.S.-flagged cargo ship. It was transported from there to Canada.
Tuwaitha is the facility that was bombed by Israel in 1981 and again by the U.S. during the 1991 Gulf War. It was a centerpiece of Hussein's nuclear weapons effort, and was looted shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
According to senior Pentagon officials, the U.S. spent an estimated $70 million to ship the yellowcake. Iraq has promised to reimburse the U.S. for the money spent flying the nuclear component.
Yellowcake, depending on market conditions, can be worth anywhere from $60 to $85 per pound.
Officials told The New York Times that while the material could not be used in its current form for a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb, the unstable environment in Iraq, along with the health dangers that can be caused from it sitting around in concentrated forms, encouraged officials to make sure it was put in secure hands.
The Times noted that the yellowcake removed from Iraq is not the same yellowcake that President Bush claimed in his 2003 State of the Union address that Hussein tried to buy from Niger.
FOX News' Catherine Herridge and Justin Fishel contributed to this report.