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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora