Swiss inspections group denies losing nuclear material in Iraq

  • 19/02/2016
SGS CEO Frankie Ng (Reuters)
SGS CEO Frankie Ng (Reuters)

Swiss inspections group SGS has denied any responsibility for security at the site where radioactive material used to test pipes at an oil field in southern Iraq disappeared last year.

It also said the radioactive content was most likely very weak.

"The site where these operations are conducted is fully secured and guarded by security guards under the responsibility of the owner of the site. SGS does not assume any responsibility for the site security and does not control accesses," it said in a statement on Thursday (local time), adding that many contractors used the site.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Iraq was searching for "highly dangerous" radioactive material whose theft last year had raised fears among Iraqi officials that it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.

SGS said its Turkish unit had been hired by US group Weatherford to perform the tests, which use what it called a low-level radioactive source.

Radioactive sources used in equipment like this were similar in strength to those used in medical radiography, SGS said.

"At the time of the disappearance of the equipment, the source was close to the end of its useful life," SGS said in a separate statement. "It is therefore safe to affirm that the remaining radioactive content of the source is now very weak."

The International Atomic Energy Agency said separately that Iraqi authorities had reported on Thursday that no elevated radiation levels have been detected following the theft.

Weatherford has also said that it was not responsible or liable for the theft. "We do not own, operate or control sources or the bunker where the sources are stored," it said on Wednesday.