The U.S. State Department on Thursday moved to reduce concern about the recent seizure of low-grade nuclear material in Iraq by Islamic extremists.
Baghdad in a July 8 letter notified the United Nations that roughly 88 pounds of uranium compounds were now under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria after the group took control of a university in Mosul, where the nuclear material was used for scientific research. Though the Iraqi government has warned that ISIS militants could try to use the substance in a terrorist act, independent issue specialists have said the uranium is not suitable for use in a nuclear device or even a radiological “dirty bomb.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki directed reporters to a statement put out by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which said it understood the uranium to be of low grade and to pose no significant proliferation risk.
The Vienna-based nuclear watchdog agency is “the appropriate entity to make any decision about whether there is a risk or concern, but it doesn’t seem that is the case at this point in time,” Psaki said in a Thursday briefing.
Psaki noted that Baghdad had said the uranium was “used for scientific and medical purposes.” That fact, she added, was “an important contextual point on our level of concern.”
Matthew Bunn, a nuclear weapons specialist at Harvard University, in a Friday web post for National Interest said it was likely that the uranium in question was “natural or depleted uranium — useless for a terrorist group trying to make a nuclear bomb. It’s of no significant use for a ‘dirty bomb’ either, as uranium is only very weakly radioactive.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria at one point was a recognized al-Qaida franchise. However, ties between the two extremist groups were said to be formally severed earlier this year after al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri grew angry that ISIS militants were fighting with another al-Qaida-affiliated group and indiscriminately killing civilians. Al-Qaida’s interest in carrying out a nuclear or radiological attack on a Western target has been well documented.
What We're Following See More »
A coalition of mothers whose children lost their lives in high profile cases across the country, known as the Mothers Of The Movement, were greeted with deafening chants of "Black Lives Matter" before telling their stories. The mothers of Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin spoke for the group, soliciting both tears and applause from the crowd. "Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to comfort a grieving mother," said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. "And that's why, in the memory of our children, we are imploring you — all of you — to vote this election day."
With the South Dakota delegation announcing its delegate count, Hillary Rodham Clinton is officially the Democratic nominee for president, surpassing the 2383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Clinton is expected to speak at the convention on Thursday night and officially accept the nomination.
About 5,500, according to official estimates. "The Monday figures marked a large increase from the protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where even the largest protests only drew a couple of hundred demonstrators. But it’s a far cry from the 35,000 to 50,000 that Philadelphia city officials initially expected."
Only a day after FiveThirtyEight's Now Cast gave Donald Trump a 57% chance of winning, the New York Times' Upshot fires back with its own analysis that shows Hillary Clinton with a 68% chance to be the next president. Its model "calculates win probabilities for each state," which incorporate recent polls plus "a state's past election results and national polling." Notably, all of the battleground states that "vote like the country as a whole" either lean toward Clinton or are toss-ups. None lean toward Trump.
On the second ballot, the Indiana Republican Party's Central Committee tapped Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb as their nominee to succeed Gov. Mike Pence this fall. "Holcomb was a top aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Dan Coats and a former chairman of the state Republican Party."