Should We Be Worried About Islamic State Building a ‘Dirty Bomb’?

Joe Carter | February 19, 2016


On Wednesday, Reuters published an exclusive report about how radioactive material missing in Iraq is raising security fears. According to their report, the Iraqi government is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year, material they fear “could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.” The missing device contained up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of Ir-192 “capsules,” a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer. 

“We are afraid the radioactive element will fall into the hands of [Islamic State],” a senior security official with knowledge of the theft told Reuters. “They could simply attach it to explosives to make a dirty bomb.”

This isn’t the first time radiactive material has gone missing from that region. In 2014 Islamic State reportedly stole uranium compounds from Mosul University in Iraq. Writing to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 8, Iraqi UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said that 88 pounds of uranium used for scientific research at Mosul University had been looted. Some militants associated with the group even claimed they had built a “dirty bomb” and were targeting London.

Is this cause for serious concern? Should we worry about Islamic State building a “dirty bomb”?

Not really. Here’s why.

Since the advent of the Atomic Age…


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