Radical jihadist group ISIS has seized 88 pounds of uranium from a research facility at Mosul University, Reuters reports.
“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” says a Tuesday letter from the Iraqi ambassador to the U.N., who explained that it “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”
“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.”
A U.S. government source told Reuters that the uranium is likely unenriched, meaning it cannot be used for nuclear weapons. Unenriched uranium can, however, be used to fuel nuclear reactors, though at much larger quantities. A different official, downplaying the significance of the acquisition, said that he was unaware of it worrying U.S. authorities. (RELATED: US Partially Evacuates Baghdad Embassy As ISIS Marches On)
U.S. officials have also downplayed ISIS’s June seizure of a Hussein-era chemical weapons depot near Baghdad, with Department of Defense spokesman Adam Kirby saying “Whatever material was kept there is pretty old and not likely to be able to be accessed or used against anyone right now.” The seizure came to light after an earlier letter from the Iraqi ambassador notified the U.N. that Iraq is unable to “fulfill its obligations to destroy chemical weapons” because of worsening security conditions.