THE UN atomic agency has said it believed nuclear ­material which Iraq said had fallen into the hands of insurgents was low grade and did not pose a significant security risk.

Iraq told the UN the ­material was used for ­scientific research at a university in the northern town of Mosul and appealed for help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad".

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency said it "is aware of the notification from Iraq and is in contact to seek further details".

Spokeswoman Gill Tudor added: "On the basis of the initial information we believe the material involved is low grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk."

Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nearly 88lbs of uranium compounds were kept at the university.

However, a US Government source said the materials were not believed to be enriched uranium.