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Osmium-187 Siezed from Smugglers in Novosibirsk

Abstract:

Police in Novosibirsk Oblast arrested eight suspects and seized an ampoule with an unspecified quantity of osmium-187, Kommersant-daily reported on 21 June 2000. The osmium had been stolen from a Kazakhstani factory by four workers, who had transported it across the border into Russia with the hope of selling it in Novosibirsk. The thieves originally planned to sell the material abroad where, according to Kommersant-daily, 1 gram costs $196,000, but they were unable to find customers locally or to transport it to Moscow for sale there. A Novosibirsk firm agreed to buy the material for $25,000, however, prompting the thieves to drive the material there from Kazakhstan. Upon arrival to Novosibirsk, the thieves and buyers went to one of the research institutes in Akademgorodok to get an expert confirmation of the material. The four thieves, three prospective purchasers, and one middleman were arrested and the material seized. Aleksey Shevchenko, head of the Berdsk anti-organized crime department, said that the Novosibirsk firm that had offered to purchase the material most likely planned to resell the material to a foreign customer. He also speculated that the group may have trafficked in osmium previously. The investigation suggests that another 10 grams of stolen osmium-187 remain in Kazakhstan. The arrested smugglers and their customers have been charged with precious metals trafficking.  [In the article, Kommersant-daily claims that osmium-187 may be used in nuclear technologies. However, osmium is not a controlled material under US law or the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and according to the US Defense Special Weapons Agency, 'cannot be used in the production of nuclear weapons.' It is frequently used in scams by con artists, however, who claim that it has nuclear weapons applications.]

Abstract Number:  20000430
Headline:  Osmium-187 Siezed from Smugglers in Novosibirsk
Date:  21 June 2000
Bibliography:  Kommersant-daily online version, http://www.online.ru, 21 June 2000
Author:  U kontrabandistov izyali osmiy [Osmium Seized from Smugglers]
Orig. Src.:  Nadezhda Yakhotina
Material:  Waste/Scams/Contaminated Materials

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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.

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