Iraq Scrambles to Find Stolen Radioactive Material

US Company Insists It Isn't Responsible for Incident

Iraqi officials are suddenly making a big deal of scrambling to recover a case full of stolen radioactive material, which they say went missing from a storage facility in Basra back in November. They say the material was in a laptop-sized protective case.

The case contained some 10 grams of Iridium 192, and officials are raising concerns it could conceivably be acquired by ISIS and turned into a “dirty bomb” by attaching it to some explosives. Iridium 192 is a heavy emitter of gamma rays.

In practice, however, the half-life of Iridium 192, just shy of 74 days, would mean that what the thieves actually have is about 5 grams of Iridium 192 and about 5 grams of stable platinum. This short half-life, while making it fairly dangerous to handle, also makes it pretty unsuitable for a dirty bomb, since it is decaying so quickly into harmless platinum.

Either way, US oil services company Weatherford, reported in the Iraqi documents as the owner of the storage facility, insists the theft is not its fault, nor are they economically liable for anything that might happen, pointing the finger at Turkish inspection company SGS, who they say owns the iridium in the first place.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.