News / Middle East

Iraq Requests Outside Help After ISIL Seizes Nuclear Materials

Islamist Militants Seize Radioactive Material in Iraqi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 10, 2014 8:59 PM
The Iraqi government has asked for international help, after Sunni militants from the group called "the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" seized radioactive material from a university. It comes days after the militants took over a disused chemical weapons factory. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA that weapons experts are playing down any major threat from the seizures.

Islamist Militants Seize Radioactive Material in Iraq

Henry Ridgwell

The Iraqi government has asked for international assistance after Sunni militants from the group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized nuclear material from a university in Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city, which they overran in June. But weapons experts are playing down any major threat from the seizure.

The Iraqi government warned Thursday that the militants had seized up to 40 kilograms of uranium compounds from Mosul University. The speed of the Iraqi military’s retreat from the rebels has left many sites unsecured, says Afzal Ashraf, counterterrorist expert at the Royal United Services Institute.

“There really wasn’t time for them to do anything.  And I don’t think anybody ever really had a contingency plan," he said. "And that’s something else that might come out of this, is to think about the sorts of things that you might want to protect in the event that a city or a town falls.”

Baghdad's appeal

In a letter to the United Nations, Baghdad appealed for international help to "stave off the threat" of the use of the nuclear material by terrorists in Iraq or abroad; but, the International Atomic Energy Agency says the material is low grade and does not pose a significant risk.

Still, Ashraf thinks the material could be used in a so-called “dirty bomb.”

“But what they could do if they were minded to do that, and with a little bit of expertise, is to make what people call a ‘dirty bomb.’  And that’s a conventional bomb where you pack some of this radioactive material around it so that when you explode this bomb, you contaminate a whole area around there,” he said.

The ISIL militants are also in control of an unused chemical weapons factory northwest of Baghdad; but experts say the munitions are degraded and unusable.

Mobilizing together

A month after the rebels began their advance, the Iraqi government appears so far unable to wrest back the territory it lost.

That will require engagement with local Sunnis alongside a military offensive, said Ranj Alaaldin of the London School of Economics.

“Much will depend on how the Iraqi state responds; whether that’s with the Iranians, or the Turks, or the Americans even," he said. "And whether they can sustain or try to influence events in the Sunni Arab north, perhaps with the support of local tribes or moderate Sunni actors.”

But the Baghdad government appears even more divided. Iraq’s Kurdish politicians announced a boycott of Cabinet meetings Thursday, after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused the northern autonomous Kurdish region of harboring the Sunni militants.

Observers say the dispute increases the likelihood that the Kurdistan regional government will attempt to break away from the Iraqi state.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 11, 2014 5:06 AM
Have no fear people, Obama is here! He will get right to it......as soon as he finishes talking about it, then he will smile for the cameras, don't be so impatient! He will talk some more after that, but this time he will take some selfies, he's so cool! He'll threaten sanctions against ISIL, but his cabinet will tell him that ISIL is not a country. He'll then try to blame Bush, and the Republicans, and ask Michelle to gather up the girls for a family pic. He'll then check the polls to see if people still think he is a 'cool prez'.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 13, 2014 10:03 PM
And "NO" Sharon, I do not think I am funny. I "KNOW" I am funny! Bush was a moron. Sleep tight. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 13, 2014 9:32 PM
Now do you people see what I mean about those who are so emboldened to worship, regardless of the facts! Look at this lady here, Sharon, who just defended Obama! Of course I was being funny, and sarcastic!!! She automatically assumed I am a Bush-ite, far from the truth. And for Sharon to be completely twisted with her knowledge of war. I am still serving, as well as Iraq, now in Afg. Completely twisting the facts, to support her unwaivering worship of the omnipotent (incompetent) Obama.

Maliki was in no position to tell the US what we can and can't do. Even our top military advisors told Obama to not completely withdraw from Iraq, Iraq was not ready. The pull out was our decision, not Maliki's!!! The complete pullout was Obama's campaign promise, and done at the appeasement of people like Sharon. So Sharon, based on your current understanding of war, why doesn't Obama do the same 'complete' pullout in Afghanistan? Afg has had a stable government longer than Iraq did before our complete withdrawal. We are not pulling out of Afg. You don't even have the corrective lenses in your eyes to see this clearly, because it will undermine your adoration of Obama.

Obama has armed and supplied the current barbarians known as ISIL. I bet you will find a way to blame Bush for that. Obama was born, raised, schooled, and indoctinated a Sunni Muslim (he is no Christian by any means!!!!). Sunnis and Shias are mortal enemies. Iraq is primarily a Shia nation, Obama armed the same people taking over Iraq by force and MURDERING women and children. Afg is a primarily Sunni nation, Obama is not pulling all troops out. But people like Sharon cannot put the 'Blame Bush campaign' behind them and see Obama for what he really is. Funny how those of us that have been serving our great nation for their entire careers can seet his clearly. People like Sharon still believe that Bush told hurricane Katrina where the Black neighborhoods were located in New Orleans, and to leave the White neighborhoods alone.

So Sharon, sit in your pentagram, surround yourself with candles, chant Obama while rocking back and forth. In the meantime, the world is falling apart. Innocent women and children are being slaughtered by the weapons that Obama supplied to them. I know you don't care about these people, but I do. They may be Muslims, but they are still my people, my family, but we all refer to them as part of the human race. Including you.

In Response

by: Sharon from: KY
July 12, 2014 11:44 PM
you must think you're funny. the president tried to leave troops there bet Maliki wasn't having it. now they are in trouble and he wants our troops back. the president told him no way.. I don't blame him, we lost enough men and women the first time around when your boy Bush started this stuff. if the leaky had listened to Obama, this never would have happened. too late now Obama is not sending troops back. it's time they figure this out on their own.


by: harry Kuheim from: USA
July 10, 2014 8:09 PM
Just call the UN...they can handle it....


by: WFHN from: California
July 10, 2014 8:08 PM
ISIL can use this radioactive stuff for a dirty bomb in Damascus and shake Bashaar Assad lose from his enclave....it will scare the bageebers out of them because they cannot tell where it is and when it is coming.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid