The militants of the banned terrorist organization ISIS during the capture of Mosul in Iraq had access to the radioactive component of cobalt-60 required to create the so-called dirty bomb, reports The Washington Post.
This term denotes an explosive device made from conventional explosives and radioactive materials. When triggered, the bomb radioactive substances sprayed into the atmosphere and contaminate the area.
Radioactive cobalt-60 was stored on the territory of the Mosul Medical University, where it was used for treating cancer patients. Medical University was on the territory controlled by fighters from 2014.
The Washington Post writes that Western intelligence agencies had calculated the power of the bomb that terrorists could make by using these reserves of cobalt-60 and estimated the degree of potential harm. Details of calculations were kept secret in case if the militants didn’t understand what was in their hands, however, the Iraqi military was informed by U.S. authorities about a potential threat.
The experts of the Institute for science and international security, the United States calculated that, in addition to reserves at Mosul University, a component of radioactive cobalt-60 was in at least two installations for the treatment of cancer patients in other medical institutions on the territory of Mosul. Nine grams of cobalt-60, which is contained in one machine for the treatment of cancer patients, enough to make a person not protected by a special screen, received a lethal dose of radiation in three minutes.
After the liberation of Mosul in early July, the Iraqi Ministry of health conducted an inspection, the results of which showed that the terrorists haven’t even touched the storage of radioactive cobalt, although they were aware of its existence.
Interlocutors of the edition among U.S. officials and nuclear experts interviewed by the newspaper believe that the terrorists could not do that, guided by practical reasons — they didn’t know how to open the vault and not expose themselves to radioactive contamination.
Commander of the armed forces of Iraq, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced the complete liberation of Mosul from the terrorists on 9 July.