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IAEA Says Tons of Powerful Explosives Missing from Iraq


The International Atomic Energy Agency says several hundred tons of high explosive material have disappeared in Iraq. The agency says a lack of security has led to looting from several sites.

IAEA spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, says the agency has information from the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology that around 350 tons of high explosives are missing.

"The Iraqi ministry attributed this loss to theft and looting due to lack of security," he said. "They were not clear when it might have been stolen, also they were not clear where it might be. The biggest concern is the threat if these explosives have fallen into the wrong hands."

Ms. Fleming says it would be a big operation to remove such large amounts of material that were stored in several bunkers.

This was not nuclear material, but it can cause substantial destruction. And some of the missing explosives can be used to trigger nuclear weapons, which is why the IAEA monitors them.

Earlier this year the IAEA reported several nuclear-related items were missing in Iraq from information relayed by satellites. Ms. Fleming says this included equipment, contaminated scrap, and whole buildings.

"It seems to be a similar pattern that sites and buildings and equipment and material are being systematically looted in Iraq," she said. "We've been reporting this on a number of occasions."

The IAEA spokeswoman also notes that the United States removed some dangerous nuclear material from Iraq in June.

"They [the US] took out the most proliferation worrying nuclear material and one-thousand radioactive sources from Iraq," she said. "They notified the IAEA that they were going to do this and the IAEA still has the right to inspect this material".

Ms. Fleming says the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, will report to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday on missing weapons materials from Iraq.

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