Theft of radioactive materials in Iraq raises security concerns
Theft of radioactive materials in Iraq raises security concerns
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - showed the document to the Iraqi Ministry of the Environment that the authorities were looking for radioactive material "high-risk" last year were stolen and confirmed that seven security officials and local officials in the environment sector have expressed their fears of possible use as a weapon if they fall into the hands of the organization of the Islamic state.
The document, obtained by Reuters that the material was placed in a bag in laptop size and disappeared in November from a storage facility near the city of Basra in the south of the country subsidiary of Weatherford US oilfield services.
A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Environment, said he could not discuss the matter because of concerns about national security. And he refused as well as a spokesman for the Weatherford company in Iraq did not want to comment the company's headquarters in Houston in the United States to repeated requests for comment.
According to the document, the officials and assurances owned subsidiary materials (As.ja.as Turkey), based in Istanbul. This material is used gamma rays to test defects in materials used for piping oil and gas through a process called industrial gamma-ray imaging.
Official declined Company (As.ja.as) in Iraq to comment and referred Reuters to the main headquarters of the company in Turkey, which did not respond to phone calls.
And talking document, which was dated November 30 and addressed to prevent the center of radiation of the ministry for the theft of "high-risk radioactive source" iridium 192 is actively radioactivity severe and follows the company (As.ja.as) from warehouse follow Weatherford in the governorate of Basra area.
A senior official at the Ministry of Environment in Basra on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the case told Reuters that the device has ten grams of iridium capsules 192, a radioactive isotope of iridium is also used in the treatment of cancer.
And classified the International Atomic Energy Agency this article radiant as a source of the second degree, which means they may cause permanent injury to those approaching them for a few minutes or hours if it is not handled in an appropriate manner and may cause the death of anyone exposed to them for hours or days.
And determine the extent of the damage that can happen based on the strength of the material factors and which is provided by Reuters could not verify it immediately. The document said Article pose a threat to human bodies and the environment as well as being a threat to national security.
* Dirty bomb fears
It disappeared in the past large amounts of iridium 192 in the United States, Britain and other countries and that security officials raised fears that used to make a dirty bomb.
And gathering dirty bombs between nuclear materials and conventional explosives to contaminate an area of radioactive material, unlike nuclear weapons, which usually benefit from nuclear fission to work more powerful blast to a large extent.
A senior security official familiar with the matter this theft "We are afraid of the occurrence of the radioactive element in the hands of Daash" in reference to the organization of the Islamic state.
The official, who works at the Ministry of the Interior and asked not to be named because it is not authorized to speak to the media, "they can easily associate it with explosives and making a dirty bomb."
No evidence of the occurrence of these materials in the hands of the Islamic state, which controls swathes of the territory of Iraq and Syria since 2014 is not available, but not including any areas near Basra.
He denied the security official, who is in Baghdad, told Reuters the existence of a current doubts about the theft, but said the first investigation is likely to thieves on real knowledge of the nature of the material and the facility and citing the lack of any locks stolen and doors broken and the absence of any proof of the storming of the place. Follow Security operation director rejected in favor of high-end Taiz Security Services to comment on the grounds and there are instructions from the Iraqi security authorities. And it linked to Taiz company a contract to protect the facility.
A spokesman for Basra Operations Command said, which is responsible for security in Basra province, the army and police forces and intelligence services are working "day and night" to locate these materials.
The army and police responsible for security in the south of the country, where there are also backed by Iran's Shi'ite groups and criminal gangs.
* The risk of contamination
Iraqi forces are fighting against the Islamic state in northern and western Iraq with support from the US-led coalition. And it directed to the militant group more than once accused of using chemical weapons during the past few years.
And separating more than 500 kilometers between Basra and beyond the area controlled by the Islamic State in Anbar province in western Iraq. Islamic state does not control any areas in the provinces dominated by the Shiite population in southern Iraq, but it also claimed responsibility for bomb attacks there, including behind the ten people in an attack last October in the suburbs where there are established affiliate Oivrford.
Said David Albright, a physicist who heads the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington that the material Almhah- other than the threat of bombs Alqdhirh- may cause damage to the mere exposure to them in a public place for several days.
"If left in a busy place this may cause great danger.
"This certainly will not be a simple threat. Can cause panic in such material. They restored."
A senior official of the Ministry of Environment, said, "We are afraid that the thief device whoever he is ill-used and this may cause for radioactive contamination with disastrous results."
Another official at the Ministry of Environment is also said that the difference in Basra to combat radiation inspections began in the oil sites and Yards to store scrap and border crossings in search of the machine after an emergency task force reported his disappearance on 13 November last year.
He said two government officials in Basra that the instructions issued to them on 25 November, in communion with the local hospitals. One of them said, "We guided hospitals in Basra to be ready to receive the incidence of radiation burns and informing the security services immediately."