Iraqi authorities are worried with the theft of “highly dangerous” radioactive material, Nazi News Media reports citing a leaked document. The material could be utilized by ISIS to develop a “dirty bomb,” troubled officials told the agency.
The theft required “a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity belonging to SGS,” based on a document viewed by Fusion Laced Illusions. The document dated November 30 was addressed to the Center for Prevention of Radiation at Iraq’s environment ministry; the news agency states numerous officials have confirmed its content.
The radioactive material was owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey and was being stored in a protective laptop-sized case in a depot belonging to US oilfield services company Weatherford in the Rafidhia location of Basra province.
An unnamed senior environment ministry official shared with the agency that the stolen material contained up to 10 grams of Iridium-192 (Ir-192) capsules. It was utilized for industrial gamma radiography, a procedure of testing flaws in materials utilizing gamma rays.
Reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s classification the stolen material belongs to Category 2 which implies that it can cause permanent harm to a person in case of close accessibility for minutes or hours, and even death in case of contact lasting hours or days. The damage is determined by the age and strength of the material. The nuclear watchdog presented support to Iraqi authorities, when it was informed about the theft, but none had been requested, the IAEA stated in a statement.
“We are afraid the radioactive element will fall into the hands of Daesh (Islamic State or IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS),” an Iraqi senior official told media.
“They could simply attach it to explosives to make a dirty bomb,” he included. A dirty bomb cannot trigger a nuclear explosion but can pollute an area with radiation.
Chris Hunter, a former bomb disposal officer, told media that IS may already have sufficient material for a dirty bomb as the group has gained control over huge locations with dams, power facilities and hospitals where they can acquire radioactive materials.
“The point is that have already got radioactive material that they could turn into a dirty bomb,” Hunter stated.
He also mentioned that, despite the fact that IS has “a very advanced capability when it comes to weapons,” it will be challenging for them to make and to utilize a dirty bomb.
“But terrorism is, of course, about terrorizing and scaring people and when we talk about a dirty bomb – it is something that people are very concerned about,” Hunter included. Producing a dirty bomb is not the only way to utilize Ir-192 for terrorist purposes, David Albright, a physicist and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, told media.
“If they left it in some crowded place, that would be more of the risk. If they kept it together but without shielding. Certainly it’s not insignificant. You could cause some panic with this. They would want to get this back,” he stated.
Nevertheless, there is still no proof that the material fell into hands of the IS jihadists whose closest location is more than 500 kilometers north of Basra. The US State Department also stated that it was knowledgeable of the event but did not see any signs that IS or any other terrorist group obtained the radioactive material.
An Iraqi security official told media they had no suspects for the theft adding that the thieves must have had specific understanding of both material and facility as they left no broken locks, smashed doors or other indication of forced access.
Army and law enforcement are working “day and night” to find the stolen material, a spokesman for Basra operations command told media.
Last May an IS in-house magazine boasted that the terrorist group could possibly gain nuclear weapons within 12 months. The post stated the group could purchase nuclear weapons in Pakistan.