Iraq is missing "highly dangerous" radioactive material stolen last year that Iraqi officials fear could be used as a weapon if acquired by a terror group, according to a Wednesday report.
The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing last November from a storage facility belonging to a U.S. oilfield services company in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, according to a document obtained by Reuters, who reported the material missing.
The Nov. 30 document describes the "the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity."
A senior environment ministry official based in Basra told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams, or 0.35 ounces, of Ir-192 "capsules" — a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.
The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source. That means if not managed properly, it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.
"We are afraid the radioactive element will fall into the hands of Daesh," a senior Iraqi security official told Reuters, using an alternate name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"They could simply attach it to explosives to make a dirty bomb," the official said.
Officials also told Reuters there was no indication the material has come into the hands of ISIS, which does not control areas near Basra.
An official said an initial investigation suggested perpetrators had specific knowledge of the material and the facility.