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Iraq fears ISIS has materials for dirty bombs

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The Iraqi government is calling on the United Nations for help when insurgents seized some nuclear materials from a university. (Source: UNIVERSITY OF MOSUL/CNN) The Iraqi government is calling on the United Nations for help when insurgents seized some nuclear materials from a university. (Source: UNIVERSITY OF MOSUL/CNN)

(CNN) - Nuclear materials now in the hands of terrorists in ISIS-controlled Mosul, and Iraq's government is sounding an international alarm, saying terrorists groups seized control of almost 90 pounds of uranium for Mosul University.

The Iraqi government is asking for "help" from the United Nations in a letter obtained by CNN, saying it "needs support to stave off the threat of the use of the nuclear material by terrorists in Iraq and abroad."

"It is a terror factor that you are never going to be able to eliminate, but not many people are going to die from this," nuclear weapons expert and president of Ploughshares Funds Joe Cirincione said.

Nuclear experts say the small amount of uranium seized by insurgents is not enriched and cannot be used to make a nuclear bomb.

"And it requires a huge industrial facility to enrich uranium. It's not something that a terrorist group is capable of," Cirincione said. "It takes tons of uranium of this kind to make enough for one bomb. These guys aren't even close."

Nuclear experts also say the uranium seized is not even enough to combine with conventional explosives to build an effective dirty bomb.

Still, U.S. military officials are telling Congress the threat from terrorists in Iraq, namely ISIS, is growing at an alarming rate as insurgents are capturing traditional weapons in Iraq and sending them into neighboring Syria.

"The equipment that ISIS was able to get a hold of due to their lightning-like success in Iraq is now flowing into Syria. Do you have any information about that," Sen. John McCain asked.

"Senator, I have seen in a classified level, I have seen some of that, that reporting that would indicate it is moving across the former borders there between Iraq and Syria back into Syria," Lt. General Joseph Votel of the U.S. Army said.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

 

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