UNITED NATIONS — Insurgents have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university, Iraq told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists." Nearly 88 pounds of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the July 8 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
"Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction." He added: "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." However, the U.N. nuclear agency said Thursday it believed the seized materials were "low grade" and did not pose a significant security risk. A Sunni Muslim group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is spearheading a patchwork of insurgents who have taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq.
First published July 10 2014, 12:51 AM