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Iraq insurgents 'seize nuclear materials' from Mosul University

Iraq's UN Ambassador said rebels had taken materials that 'can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction'

Iraq has told the United Nations that “terrorist groups” have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country's north.

In a letter seen by Reuters, dated 8 July, the country appealed for help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad”.

But the UN atomic agency said on Thursday it believed the nuclear material requisitioned by insurgents was “low grade” and did not pose a significant security risk.

Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the letter that nearly 40 kilogrammes (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,” Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”


The International Atomic Energy Agency “is aware of the notification from Iraq and is in contact to seek further details,” 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.”

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“Nevertheless, any loss of regulatory control over nuclear and other radioactive materials is a cause for concern,” Tudor said.

Additional reporting by Reuters