Osmium-187 Seized in Omsk, Russia
Counterintelligence agents of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) regional branch in Omsk arrested an "international criminal group" that was trying to sell the "radioactive isotope" osmium-187 as well as a large sum of counterfeit Iraqi dinar, the news agency VolgaInform reported on 2 March 2002. An FSB spokesperson, Natalya Grudtsyna, said agents arrested a 61-year-old Omsk native who was asking $30,000 for 1.33 g of osmium-187 powder. The man had concealed the glass ampoule containing the metallic powder in a pen. VolgaInform reported that osmium-187 has the property of increasing radioactivity. It also claims that the market price for the rare-earth element is $200,000/g. [According to the Los Alamos National Laboratory website, 99% pure osmium powder generally sells for $100/g depending on quantity and supplier. According to a website designed by the University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK, osmium has several civilian uses, but there is no mention of its use in nuclear weapons. Moreover, osmium-187 is not a radioactive isotope. According the US Defense Special Weapons Agency, osmium is frequently used in scams by con artists, however, who claim that it has nuclear weapons applications.] The FSB also arrested an accomplice, a 50-year-old Omsk native who was attempting to sell 158,000 Iraqi dinar for 45 cents a piece. According to Grudtsyna, the two men are members of an international criminal group. However, she did not provide any further details about this group or their activities. The Omsk FSB had been conducting surveillance of the group for several months. The FSB is continuing to make arrests of the remaining members of the group.
Abstract Number: 20030110
Headline: Omskaya oblast: Kontrrazvedchiki poymali pensionerov, torgovavshikh radioaktivnym osmiyem i falshivoy irakskoy valyutoy [Omsk oblast: Counterintelligence agents catch pensioners selling radioactive osmium and counterfeit Iraqi currency]
Date: 2 March 2003
Bibliography: VolgaInform; in Integrum Techno, http://www.integrum.ru
 "Chemistry Division," Los Alamos National Laboratory website, http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/elements/76.html
 "Osmium," WebElements.com, http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/
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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