Officials Fear ISIS Could Obtain Stolen Radioactive Material

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Los Angeles police officers wearing contamination suits secure the area following the explosion of a “dirty bomb” during a simulated attack at a dock at the Port of Los Angeles on August 5, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that a radioactive device was stolen in the southern city of Az Zubayr, Iraq, where the Islamic State has claimed attacks. NBC News reports:

The IAEA said the missing “Ir-192 radioactive source in a shielding container” was classified as a Category 2 radioactive substance that, if not managed properly, could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.

The shielding container was stolen from Weatherford International, a Houston, Texas-based “oil and gas service company with a presence in every major oil and gas region of the world.”

ISIS does not control any areas in southern Iraq, but ISIS has begun to use chemical weapons.
In August, it was confirmed that Kurds fighting ISIS in northern Iraq were exposed to mustard gas. According to The Guardian, this was confirmed by German intelligence who collected blood samples from Kurds who were hurt in battle. It was also reported that Marea, a town in northern Syria, was allegedly subjected to a chemical attack in August, too. However, this could not be independently confirmed.

Officials fear that if ISIS did obtain the radioactive material, they could use it to make a “dirty bomb.” According to The Daily Mail, “a ‘dirty bomb’ combines nuclear material with conventional explosives to contaminate an area with radiation.”

They also write that those who stole the radioactive device from the facility had knowledge about the facility’s layout.

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