Iraqi militants 'have seized nuclear material'

Jul 10, 2014

Ambassador warns the UN that stolen uranium could be used for terrorist acts


Iraq has warned the United Nations that militants in the country have taken nuclear materials used for scientific research in a university in Mosul.

In a letter seen by Reuters, Iraq's ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, says that "terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state".

Alhakim adds that such materials "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction".

The envoy says nearly 40kg of uranium compounds were seized, which he claims is sufficient to use it on its own "or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts". The ambassador appeals to the UN for help to "stave off the threat of [its] use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad".

News of the seizure of nuclear material comes days after Iraq confirmed that militants have taken control of a disused chemical weapons factory, which houses remnants of rockets filled with sarin and other deadly nerve agents.

However, US officials are playing down the danger of both developments, saying the seized nuclear materials did not contain enriched uranium. Officials in Washington say that it would be difficult for the rebels to use the materials to make weapons, reports the BBC.

US officials also believe the chemical munitions at the captured factory are degraded and that rebels will be unable to make usable chemical arms from them.

Isis militants have seized more territory in north-western Iraq in recent weeks. According to the UN, at least 1,531 civilians were killed in "acts of violence and terrorism" last month. More than a million people have fled their homes as a result of the fighting.

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