Armenian Customs Stops Radiation Source Bound for Iran
On February 12, 2004, Nuclear.ru reported that on December 29, 2003 at the Megri border checkpoint on the Armenian-Iranian border, Armenian customs officials discovered a radiation source in a scrap metal shipment bound for Iran. However, Nuclear.ru mistakenly indicated that the scrap metal was outbound from the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). According to Vladimir Kurghinyan, spokesperson for the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ANRA), the Armenian NPP in Metsamor is not linked to the radioactive object.[1,2] Later ANRA head Ashot Martirosyan also confirmed that neither Iran nor the Armenian NPP were connected to the radioactive object.[3,4,5] On February 25, ITAR-TASS quoted Martirosyan as saying that the radioactive object discovered at the Armenian-Iranian border was an empty casing from a radioactive source, which previously contained strontium-90.[The presence of the casing for a radioactive source without the radioactive source itself would appear to imply that the source now rests at an unknown location without the protective barriers necessary to avoid injury to the public.]
After its discovery, Armenian authorities immediately neutralized the object and reported the incident to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to Martirosyan, Armenia has launched the investigation into the incident with the assistance of the IAEA and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (now Federal Agency of Atomic Energy). He added that a spectral analysis showed that the object has a high radioactivity level and that it was not registered among the 1,292 sources in a 2003 government inventory of radiation sources. According to Martirosyan, the object could have been brought to Armenia from Georgia.[3,5,6] According to Kurghinyan, the investigation is aimed at revealing both the origin of the source and the circumstances of its appearance in the scrap metal shipment.
This item originally appeared in the NIS Export Control Observer<http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/nisexcon/index.htm>
Abstract Number: 20040040
Headline: MAGATE klassifitsirovalo sobytiye na Armyanskoy AES urovnem ‘2’ po mezhdunarodnoy shkale INES” [IAEA rated the event at the Armenian NPP as a Level 2 event in accordance with the International Nuclear Events Scale]
Date: 12 February 2004
Bibliography: Nuclear.ru, http://www.nuclear.ru/news/full.html?id=2275
Material: Radioactive Isotopes
 “Nuclear.ru prinosit izvineniya za dopushchennuyu netochnost v informatsii o radiatsionnom intsidente v Armenii” [Nuclear.ru apologizes for the mistake made in the report about the radioactive incident in Armenia], Nuclear.ru, February 13, 2004, <http://www.nuclear.ru/news/full.html?id=2279>.
 Kurghinyan, “Unshielded radioactive source found in metal scrap,” February 9, 2004, IAEA Nuclear Events Web Based System website, <http://www-news.iaea.org/news/topics/topic/default.asp?topicID=742>.
 Tigran Liloyan, “Obnaruzhennyy na granitse Armenii i Irana istochnik radiatsii byl bolshoy moshchnosti” [Radiation source found on the Armenian-Iranian border had high radioactivity], ITAR-TASS, February 19, 2004; in Integrum Techno, <http://www.integrum.com>.
 Tigran Liloyan, “Iran ne imeyet nikakogo otnosheniya k radioaktivnomu predmetu, obnaruzhennomu v Armenii , zayavil nachalnik Gosatomnadzora strany” [Iran has nothing to do with radioactive object found in Armenia, according to the head of the country’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority], ITAR-TASS, February 25, 2004; in Integrum Techno, <http://www.integrum.com>.
 “Armenia investigating origin of radioactive source found on Iranian border,” Arminfo, February 19, 2004; in Lexis Nexis Academic Universe, <http://lexis-nexis.com>.
 Tigran Liloyan, “V sluzhbe natsbezopasnosti Armenii podtverdili fakt obnaruzheniya na granitse s Iranom radioaktivnogo predmeta” [Armenia’s national security service confirms the discovery of a radioactive object on the border with Iran], ITAR-TASS, February 26, 2004; in Integrum Techno, <http://www.integrum.com>.
This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright © 2011 by MIIS.
This article is part of a collection examining reported incidents of nuclear or radioactive materials trafficking in or originating from the Newly Independent States.
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