In Iraq looking for «extremely dangerous» radioactive material, disappeared last year, reports Reuters, citing a document from the Ministry of environment and several sources in government. The materials held in the protective container the size of a laptop went missing in November from the store near the city of Basra-owned oil and gas company Weatherford, the document says. This information is also confirmed by the source Agency, writes NEWSru.com.
However, the spokesperson of the Iraqi Ministry of environment said that can’t discuss the topic, citing security concerns.
In a statement Weatherford said that she is not responsible for theft: «We are not the owners or operators of materials and the bunker where they were stored, and do not control them.»
Stolen materials are used for the detection of defects in gas and oil pipelines, with the assistance of industrial gamma radiography. From documents and testimonies by officials that the content is owned by SGS Turkey, based in Istanbul. A company spokesman in Iraq declined to comment and Reuters suggested to go to the headquarters of SGS in Turkey. Turkish section, as reported, does not respond to letters and phone calls.
In the U.S. Department of state reported that they were aware of the existing documents in connection with the incident, but the office did not see any indications that materials are available to the Islamic state or other terrorist groups.
In this case a representative of the US authorities told the Agency that in November Iraq informed about the disappearance of a specialized chamber for highly radioactive iridium-192 in IAEA — International atomic energy Agency with its headquarters in Vienna.
«Since then, they search for the missing. It’s unclear if the materials are really stolen or simply lost,» explained the Reuters source, who requested anonymity.
In the document of the Iraqi Ministry of the environment, dated November 30 and addressed to the centre for the prevention of radiation hazard in the structure of the Ministry, referred to «the theft of very dangerous radioactive source of iridium-192 owned by SGS, Veda storage in the province of Basra».
A senior official of the Ministry of Basra, also on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the missing container contained up to 10 grams of iridium-192 is a radioactive isotope of iridium, are also used in the treatment of cancer.
According to the classification of the IAEA, iridium-192 belongs to the second category of radiation sources — this means that if not handled properly substance can cause irreparable damage to people near him within a few minutes or hours. Upon contact from a few hours to a few days exposure to the substance can be fatal.
Previously large amounts of iridium-192 was lost in the US, UK and other countries, causing concern among authorities due to the fact that the material can be used to build a dirty bomb.
One of the interlocutors of Reuters, a senior official of the security services, told the news Agency that the authorities are afraid of getting materials in the hands of ISIS, which can turn it into a dirty bomb, simply by connecting with explosives.
The state Department spokesman refused to comment on the possible use of the missing materials to build a dirty bomb.
The security officer from Baghdad told Reuters that at present the suspects in the theft are not available. However, preliminary investigations showed that the attackers were familiar with the materials and storage.
«The locks had been forced open, doors in place — no sign of forced entry into the premises,» — said the source.
Employee Tanana, Iraqi companies, hired to protect the store, also refused to comment on the situation, referring to the instructions of the Iraqi security services.
In Iraq looking for dangerous radioactive material stolen last year. 18.02.2016