Terrorist groups seize former chemical weapons depot in Iraq
In a letter made public on Tuesday, Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the Muthanna-based facility was seized on June 11 and that the country is unable to fulfill its international obligations to destroy toxins kept there. The remnants of the country's former chemical weapons program are kept in two of the facility's bunkers, Reuters reports.
"The project management spotted at dawn on (June 12), through the camera surveillance system, the looting of some of the project equipment and appliances, before the terrorists disabled the surveillance system," Alhakim said, according to Reuters. "The government of Iraq requests the states members of the United Nations to understand the current inability of Iraq, owing to the deterioration of the security situation, to fulfill its obligations to destroy chemical weapons."
Alhakim said Iraq would resume its obligations when the security situation improves and after it has regained control of the facility.
Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. understands that the material kept at the facility is old and unlikely to be used against any individuals.
"We aren't viewing this particular site and their holding it as a major issue at this point," Kirby said, according to Reuters. "Should they even be able to access the materials, frankly, it would likely be more of a threat to them than anyone else."
The Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim group, is leading a group of insurgents to take over large parts of Iraq and Syria, Reuters reports.