Tests conducted on the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat found an unusually high amount of the radioactive element polonium-210 in some of his personal items, according to scientists with knowledge of the tests.
The tests however do not mean that Arafat was killed by radiation poisoning and more tests need to be done to determine the exact cause of death.
"We have evidence there is too much polonium, but we also have hints from the medical records that this may not be the case. The only way to resolve this anomaly would be by testing the body," Francois Bochud, director of Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, told CNN.
Arafat's widow, Suha, asked the Swiss institute to analyze some of his belongings and medical documents, Bochud said.
The Palestinian Authority has stated that they have no religious or political reason that would prevent further research into the issue. They also stated that they have no objections of having Arafat's body exhumed and tested by reliable scientific authorities so long as his family approves, spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Scientists explained that is should still be possible to measure any remaining polonium in Arafat's body even though it has been several years, because Arafat was buried in a tomb, not underground, Bochud said.
Arafat died in 2004 at the age of 75 at a military hospital in France. The late Palestinian leader had traveled to Paris a few weeks prior for treatment of a blood disorder, Palestinian officials stated.
Bochud did not say how high the levels were or what level would be dangerous or life threatening. Bochud also stated that Arafat's condition at the time he died was not entirely consistent with polonium poisoning.
There was an "unexplained amount of polonium-210," Bochud said. "We are testing tiny quantities so it is difficult to measure and not conclusive."