Bonn Concludes Plutonium Incident Was Not Staged


In its final report, issued on 23 June 1998, a German parliamentary committee has concluded that there is no reason to believe that the German security service staged an August 1994 incident in which plutonium was smuggled on a commercial flight from Moscow and seized in a dramatic operation at the Munich airport. Following public outcry over the incident, opposition politicians in the German parliament had charged that Bernd Schmidbauer, German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl's intelligence coordinator, had himself provided the plutonium to the alleged smugglers in order to boost Kohl's chances of winning the 1994 general election in Germany. Summarizing the results of its investigation, however, the committee said that 'the accusation of `staging for political reasons' is not backed up by anything.' The committee concluded that the plan for selling the plutonium was probably formulated by a man named 'Fernandez,' a Spaniard now in jail, who refused to testify before the committee. The committee did conclude, however, that Munich authorities had known of the plan to smuggle the plutonium to Germany in advance, and instead of attempting to secure the material in Moscow, had allowed it to be put on a commercial airline flight. 'This kind of plutonium transport entailed a high risk of damage, and should not be repeated,' said Max Standler, a member of the committee. Kohl testified before the committee in November 1997, and denied that either he or Schmidbauer knew details of the operation in advance. (See entry below for 13 November 1997)

Abstract Number:  19980430
Headline:  Bonn Concludes Plutonium Incident Was Not Staged.
Date:  23 June 1998
Bibliography:  Reuters, 23 June 1998

June 23, 1998

This article is part of a collection examining reported incidents of nuclear or radioactive materials trafficking in or originating from the Newly Independent States.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.