Russian smuggled nuclear-bomb uranium, officials say

– This was about 3.5 ounces of 90% enriched Uranium (bomb grade). Sources tell us that 33 to 40 pounds is enough for an atomic weapon. According to an IAEA database, there have been 16 previous confirmed cases that either highly enriched uranium or plutonium have been recovered by authorities since 1993. In most cases the recoveries have involved smaller quantities than the Tbilisi case. But in 1994, 6 pounds of highly enriched uranium intended for sale were seized by police in the Czech Republic.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republic of Georgia authorities, aided by the CIA, set up a sting operation last summer that led to the arrest of a Russian man who tried to sell a small amount of nuclear-bomb grade uranium in a plastic bag in his jacket pocket, U.S. and Georgian officials said.

The operation, which neither government has publicized, represents one of the most serious cases of smuggling of nuclear material in recent years, according to analysts and officials.

The arrest underscored concerns about the possibility of terrorists acquiring nuclear bomb-making material on the black market, although there was no suggestion that this particular case was terrorist-related.

“Given the serious consequences of the detonation of an improvised nuclear explosive device, even small numbers of incidents involving HEU (highly enriched uranium) or plutonium are of very high concern,” said Melissa Fleming of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Details of the investigation, which also involved the FBI and Energy Department, were provided to The Associated Press by U.S. officials and Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.

Authorities say they do not know how the man acquired the nuclear material or if his claims of access to much larger quantities were true. He and three Georgian accomplices are in Georgian custody and not cooperating with investigators.

Georgian attempts to trace the nuclear material since the arrest and confirm whether the man indeed had access to larger quantities have foundered from a lack of cooperation from Russia.

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– This 2nd link is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, recently, a friend of mine suggested the website bugmenot.com :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

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