A Swiss doctor said Wednesday they found high levels of toxic polonium-210 on some of Arafat's belongings, though it does not mean he suffered radiation poisoning.
"We have evidence there is too much polonium, but we also have hints from the medical records that this may not be the case,"
said Francois Bochud, director of the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland. "The only way to resolve this anomaly would be by testing the body."
Suha Arafat said she had not made an official request to the Palestinian Authority for exhumation because no official request is needed. The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday that it would not object to exhuming the body from its tomb if Arafat's family approves.
Arafat belongings test high for radioactivity, scientist says
If it turns out that Arafat, who died in 2004, was poisoned, "Any result will be significant for us to help know the truth," said Suha Arafat, the former leader's widow. "It is a form of closure for our family. Closing one wound but opening a new one, wondering who is responsible."
Bochud's research team tested Arafat's toothbrush, clothing and keffiyeh, the trademark black-and-white headscarf he often wore, Bochud said.
But getting data from items like clothing "is really tricky business," said Cham Dallas, a professor and toxicologist at the University of Georgia's Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense.
"We don't have enough information to make any definitive statement, but it does seem a bit of a stretch" to conclude that Arafat was poisoned by polonium-210, he told CNN in a telephone interview.
Dallas questioned how much confidence the Swiss scientists could have in their measurements and said he was looking forward to results from tests carried out on the body after it is exhumed.
"I'd have a lot more confidence if you could give me a bone sample," he told CNN in a telephone interview. He cited compartments inside the bone as particularly telling. "There's old bone and then there's new bone," he said. "If you're sampling, it would come out very differently."