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‘The stolen materials in Iraq could be used for a dirty bomb’

Published time: July 11, 2014 11:44
Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani

It is possible that jihadists will put radioactive material into conventional weapon such as artillery shells and fire it off and radiate an area, which will be uninhabitable for years, former US Defense Department worker Michael Maloof told RT.

RT: What do you expect the jihadists to do with the nuclear material they've seized?

Michael Maloof: It depends upon its composition; it’s possible that the material could be used for making a dirty bomb at best. It cannot be made into a nuclear weapon, it has been determined that it is not the grade for a nuclear weapon, but it certainly can be used to make a dirty bomb. And it has been known for years that you can take radioactive material and put it into a conventional weapon such as artillery shells and fire it off and radiate an area. It has been my experience working with bodyguards in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the past that even radioactive scrap metal can be ground up and used, and on one occasion I recalled that drivers who drove the materials through the checkpoints later died of radiation poisoning. So the fact is that they have a regulated substance, and given the fact that the Islamic state has some very smart people, I think that they can probably put it to some use if not a psychological threat to people if it’s used in warfare or as a terrorist weapon.

RT: According to some experts, the uranium is not enriched enough make a nuclear bomb. But can it still be used for terror attacks?

MM: Absolutely. And I think that this is a reason why the Iraqi authorities informed the UN that it was meant to be for university use, but again, if it is put in the wrong hands for the wrong purposes, it can be used as a weapon. As I have said we have seen this over and over again on other occasions where such materials can be used for illicit purposes and it is something to be very concerned about. The fact that al-Baghdadi was a protégé of Azakawi who was with the Al-Islam group, they have experience working with nuclear materials in the past, and I think that Al-Qaeda has people who know nuclear materials. It would not surprise me if they can put this to some use even though other experts might disagree that it might be even used for dirty bomb. The fact that it is regulated, the fact that it is up there is a reason to be concerned about. It can be used by these people in very highly populated areas and of course that would radiate the area and it could cause that we would not be able to use that area for years as a consequence.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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