Iraq tells U.N. 'terrorist groups' seized former chemical weapons depot

UNITED NATIONS Tue Jul 8, 2014 5:38pm EDT

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.REUTERS/Stringer

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iraq's government has lost control of a former chemical weapons facility to "armed terrorist groups" and is unable to fulfill its international obligations to destroy toxins kept there, the country's U.N. envoy told the United Nations.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, made public on Tuesday, Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the Muthanna facility north of Baghdad was seized on June 11. He said remnants of a former chemical weapons program are kept in two bunkers there.

"The project management spotted at dawn on Thursday, 12 June 2014, through the camera surveillance system, the looting of some of the project equipment and appliances, before the terrorists disabled the surveillance system," Alhakim wrote in the letter dated June 30.

The Sunni Muslim group known as the Islamic State is spearheading a patchwork of insurgents who have taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq. The group, an al Qaeda offshoot, until recently called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"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," he said.

Iraq would resume its obligations when the security situation improves and it has regained control of the facility, Alhakim said.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said last month that the United States' best understanding was that "whatever material was kept there is pretty old and not likely to be able to be accessed or used against anyone right now."

"We aren't viewing this particular site and their holding it as a major issue at this point," Kirby said. "Should they even be able to access the materials, frankly, it would likely be more of a threat to them than anyone else."

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Missy Ryan in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Comments (29)
Loucleve wrote:
well done Hillary, Kerry, Obama et al.

Running guns to al qaeda in Libya to topple Assad in Syria has consequences.

Imagine that.

Jul 08, 2014 3:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bighammerman wrote:
Obama’s foreign policies have turned the world upside down. Obama’s domestic policies are destroying the country and yet people still support him. Members of his own party are turning away from Obama, distancing themselves from Obama’s disastrous actions including the Clintons’. Obama needs to resign now so that he can spend more time on the golf course and less time destroying our country and the world. What is so perplexing to me is that people still continue to support Obama even though Obama’s actions will hurt them badly in the future.

Obama turns his attention towards illegals that are menacing the country and turns his back on Chicago’s crime ridden streets and Detroit’s disaster. Look at Obama, Obama does not care about you or this country. Obama needs to resign or be removed from office by Congress immediately on an emergency basis.

Jul 08, 2014 3:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Slammy wrote:
I thought the war in Iraq is a called a mistake because Iraq did not have chemical weapons… If true, what is the big deal? If wrong, why are they still there?

Jul 08, 2014 3:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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