Iraq Searching for Missing Iridium

 Iraq Searching for Missing Iridium
 Iraq Searching for Missing Iridium

Authorities in Iraq are trying to trace a small amount of radioactive material that has disappeared from a site in Basra. While the quantity of iridium is not enough for a nuclear bomb, it can still be used in a weapon.

Iraqi officials have been searching for the missing iridium ever since the US Company Weatherford reported its loss some three months ago, Khajak Ferweer, the head of Basra’s environment commission, was quoted as saying by AFP on Thursday.

The material allegedly went missing from a Weatherford storage facility in the oil-rich Iraqi region.

According to Ferweer, the radioactive substance amounts to only several grams of Ir-192, a radioactive iridium isotope. It was stored in a protective casing the size of a laptop computer and used in a device for testing oil and gas pipelines.

Ferweer said the material could not be used to make a nuclear bomb.

Weatherford had hired the Turkish branch of the Swiss inspections group SGS to test pipes in the southern Iraqi province of Basra.

SGS, which owns the missing iridium, has denied any responsibility for the security at the site.

“Iraqi officials still consider the iridium to be missing, and not stolen,” said Jabbar al-Saadi, a member of Basra’s security committee.

There were also no signs of forced entry at the scene, another security official in Baghdad told Reuters.

The US State Department said there were no signs that any militant groups had acquired the radioactive material. The closest territory under the control of the self-styled Islamic State militant group is 500 km north of Basra.