Belarusian Police Arrest Uranium Smugglers
Agents of the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) arrested several members of an "international criminal group trying to arrange the illegal sale in Belarus of radioactive materials," Interfax reported on 17 January 2002. The report said that six suspects had been arrested in connection with the case, but did not provide any names or details about their citizenship, nor did it specify the date of the arrests. The arrests were made as the result of a "sting" operation by the KGB. The agency had been informed that some "enterprising citizens" were trying to sell uranium. An undercover KGB agent was then sent to pose as a foreign buyer and instructed to make contact with the group trying market the uranium. The agent first purchased a sample (261g) of the material, contained in a metal rod, which was tested to ascertain if it was in fact uranium. The sampled tested positive for both U-235 and U-238. At a subsequent meeting, the agent said he was satisfied with the quality of the material, and arranged the purchase of 1.5kg of uranium for $250,000. At the meeting where the uranium was to be handed over to the undercover agent, the seller was arrested and four additional metal rods containing uranium were seized. Preliminary analysis of the material suggests that it was taken from a fuel assembly for an RBMK power reactor. [If correct, this would indicate that the material involved is LEU. As Belarus does not have any RBMK reactors on its territory, the material presumably came from Russia, Ukraine, or Lithuania, all of which have operating RBMK reactors.] The suspects have been charged with violating Article 332 of the Belarusian criminal code, which prohibits the illegal acquisition, storage, use or destruction of radioactive materials.
Abstract Number : 20020010
Headline: Belarusian Police Arrest Smugglers Peddling LEU
Date: 17 January 2002
Bibliography: Interfax, 17 January 2002
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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