News / Middle East

Iraq Requests Outside Help After ISIL Seizes Nuclear Materials

Islamist Militants Seize Radioactive Material in Iraqi
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.

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Comment Sorting
by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 11, 2014 5:06 AM
Have no fear people, Obama is here! He will get right to 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 will scare the bageebers out of them because they cannot tell where it is and when it is coming.

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