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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs