Uranium was found in Iraq by ISIS. The nuclear materials were reportedly used in scientific research and may or may not be capable of being weaponized. The country’s United Nations Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhaki asked the U.N. Secretary General to help thwart the use of the uranium by terrorists groups in Iraq and around the world.
The uranium was stored at Mosul University, which was recently targeted by ISIS insurgents. “Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state. Such materials can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction,” Ambassador Alhakim said.
When Iraq was searched for weapons of mass destruction during the George W. Bush administration, none were found. The lack of discovery led some to lambast the president for both the search and the war, but left others wondering if uranium and other nuclear compounds were just securely hidden before inspectors arrived.
According to a letter from the Iraq ambassador to the United Nations published by Reuters, about 40 kilograms of uranium compounds were stored at Mosul University.
An excerpt from the letter about the Iraq uranium reads:
“These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts.”
Earlier this week, Iraq acceded to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The convention requires countries to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, transportation, and storage.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had this to say about deferring to the nuclear material convention to curtail the uranium problem in Iraq:
“It also provides for expanded cooperation between and among states regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offenses.”
A United States government official allegedly familiar with the missing uranium in Iraq claims the nuclear materials seized by ISIS is not believed to be enriched uranium. If the unnamed official is correct, it would be difficult to create a weapon of mass destruction from the compounds. Experts largely agree that making a weapon from the 80 pounds of the low-grade uranium would be difficult, but not impossible.
[Image Via: Wired]