Seized nuclear material in Iraq 'low grade': IAEA
The U.N. atomic agency said on Thursday it believed nuclear material Iraq said had been seized by insurgents was "low grade" and did not pose a significant security risk.
Iraq told the United Nations in a July 8 letter that the nuclear materials had been taken from a university in the country's north. It appealed for help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad".
Al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, took over swathes of Syria and Iraq before renaming itself the Islamic State on June 29 and declaring its leader caliph - a title held by successors of the Prophet Mohammad.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "is aware of the notification from Iraq and is in contact to seek further details", IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.
"On the basis of the initial information we believe the material involved is low grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk," she said. "Nevertheless, any loss of regulatory control over nuclear and other radioactive materials is a cause for concern."
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the letter that nearly 40 kg (88 pounds) of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University.
"Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," he said.
However, a U.S. government source said the materials were not believed to be enriched uranium and therefore would be difficult to use to manufacture into a nuclear weapon.
Olli Heinonen, a former IAEA chief inspector, said that if the material came from a...
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