Hagel: Uranium Seized by ISIS 'Not a Threat Now'
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated the administration isn't particularly concerned with the uranium seized by ISIS terrorists in Iraq, saying the "old chemicals" aren't weaponized.
Reuters obtained a letter written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 8 from Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in which the envoy asks the world body for help to "stave off the threat" of the use of the 88 pounds of uranium compounds from the University of Mosul by terrorists.
"Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction."
"These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts," he added.
"We were aware of that facility," Hagel told reporters on a stop at the Naval submarine base at King's Bay, Ga. "We've known about it for a number of years. And I think the best way to respond to it is -- it is not chemical weapons munitions."
"They are not weaponized. They're old chemicals from many years ago," he continued. "So, we know where they are. We've known about them, we're keeping our eye on them, but again, they're not munitions and they're not weaponized."
Under questioning, Hagel acknowledged that the compounds seized by terrorists are inherently dangerous.
"Well, there are toxins. That's right. But again, they are not munitions. They are not weaponized. And there's no question, if you venture into that -- that area, there is danger. That's right. And there is danger for those who happen to wander in there," the Defense secretary said.
"But they are not a threat now in -- in any way as a form of a weapon."