Moldovan HEU Case Submitted to Court; New Facts and Allegations Revealed (update to case 20110050)
In the beginning of September 2011, it was reported that criminal investigation into the June 2011 seizure of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in Moldova was completed and the case was submitted to the Chisinau Court of Appeal. Three members of the criminal group were to stand trial for "illegal acquisition, possession, smuggling and use of nuclear material," as well as for the "creation of a criminal organization". Valeriy Zubko, Moldova's Prosecutor General, was quoted as saying that in April (presumably of 2011), the suspects had created a stable criminal group "specializing in acquisition, possession, transportation and sale of uranium." According to Zubko, the group's leader purchased the material and the other members were tasked with finding a buyer .
Later in September, AP reported that the container seized in June 2011 carried a 4.4-gram sample of the HEU oxide. The sample was offered at a price of $600,000, and the sellers claimed to have 9 kg of the material, as well as an unspecified quantity of plutonium . Credibility of this allegation could not be unequivocally established, but Valeriy Zubko believes that the suspects could provide at least 1 kg of the material, which is in "another country" [1,2]. The report refers to anonymous U.S. and U.N. officials who allegedly claimed that the sample had been traced to "specific Russian enrichment facilities and was matched later with at least one earlier seizure of uranium." According to the White House national security spokesman, Russian authorities "are taking appropriate actions." U.S. authorities are said to have been aiding Moldovans in searching for a North African man married to a Moldovan woman who is believed to have tried to buy the uranium in Moldova before fleeing the country. Data found on a computer in the office of one of the suspects also revealed that the group had sought contacts in North Africa to sell the uranium .
Abstract Number: 20110110
Headline: Moldovan HEU Case Submitted to Court; New Facts and Allegations Revealed (update to case 20110050)
Date: 27 June 2011
 "Genprokuratura Moldovy napravila v sud delo po prodazhe urana," Komsomolskaya Pravda v Moldove, 6 September 2011, http://kp.md
 "AP Exclusive: Officials say crime ring has uranium," CBS News, 27 September 2011, www.cbsnews.com
Material: HEU, oxide, enrichment unknown
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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