- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Iraqi officials are searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material that was stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security environmental and provincial officials who told Reuters they fear it could end up being used by terrorists as a chemical weapon.

The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went mission in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford, both the document and officials confirmed to Reuters.

The material uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiology. It is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey.

A senior environment ministry official told Reuters the stolen device contained up to 10 grams of Ir-192 “capsules,” a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.

If not managed properly, the material could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days, Reuters reported.

Officials fear the radioactive material could fall into the hands of the Islamic State terror group.

“They could simply attach it to explosives to make a dirty bomb,” a senior security official told Reuters.

A dirty bomb combines nuclear material with conventional explosives to contaminate an area with radiation.

There was no indication the material had fallen into the hands of the militant group.

Earlier this month, CIA director John Brennan told lawmakers that the Islamic State had used chemical weapons and had the capability to make more.

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