ISIS seizes nuclear (uraniuam) material from lab, which theoretically could have the potential for a dirty bomb, though not likely.
FOX News ISIS jihadists have grabbed 88 pounds of uranium compounds from a Mosul University science lab. “There is theoretically the potential for a dirty bomb,” Daryl Kimball, of the Arms Control Association in Washington, told FoxNews.com, explaining that such bombs are more effective at scaring people than killing them. “It explodes and the terrorist is banking on the fear factor of radiation.
The material, believed to be low-grade, unenriched uranium mixed with other elements, was taken from a science lab at Mosul University by ISIS, the terrorist group that took over Iraq’s second-largest city last month and has vowed to attack Baghdad. Iraq notified the UN in a July 8 letter which sought international help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad,” according to Reuters, which saw the letter.
Although the material is not believed to be weaponized, and ISIS does not have known missile delivery capability, the theft stoked fear that a dirty bomb – a primitive explosive used to disseminate radioactive material – could be fashioned from the uranium compounds.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said the compounds were used at Mosul University labs in “very limited quantities” for research, and that they were slated for destruction before ISIS took over the city.
Former International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Olli Heinonen said that if the material came from a university it most likely is laboratory chemicals consisting of natural or depleted uranium. “You cannot make a nuclear explosive from this amount, but all uranium compounds are poisonous,” Heinonen told Reuters.
David Albright, of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said the likelihood of fashioning a dirty bomb from the stolen materials was remote, noting uranium is not very radioactive. “However, any uranium in the hands of a terrorist group is concerning, since it shows interest in nuclear material and their interest is unlikely to be for peaceful purposes,” Albright, a former IAEA weapons inspector, told FoxNews.com.
Earlier this week, Iraq’s U.N. envoy said that the government had lost control of a former chemical weapons facility near Baghdad to “armed terrorist groups.”