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Insurgents in Iraq 'have seized nuclear materials'

Insurgents in northern Iraq have seized nuclear materials from Mosul University, according to a letter from an Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations.

Islamist insurgents have seized nuclear materials in northern Iraq. Credit: Reuters

The letter appealed for UN help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad" after around 88 pounds of uranium compounds were apparently seized.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 8: "Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state."

He added that the nuclear materials could "be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction" and warned they could also be smuggled out of Iraq.

The materials were not believed to be enriched uranium and therefore would be difficult to use in manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction, a US government source told the news agency.