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Six people detained in Ukraine attempting to sell 2.5 kg of depleted uranium

Abstract:

On March 17, 2010, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) detained six Ukrainian citizens in the city of Slavyansk, Donetsk oblast, who attempted to sell 2.5 kg of depleted uranium for 200,000 U.S. dollars. The incident was made public only on May 12, 2010. [1] According to Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Committee, three irregularly shaped pieces of depleted uranium metal were emitting background radiation of over 1.2 microroentgen per hour, which reportedly exceeds the natural level by a factor of 100.[2]

According to one of the news reports, the group kept uranium in a plastic bag in the trunk of the car. Two of the perpetrators – a businessman from the city of Torez (Donetsk oblast) and a resident of Lugansk oblast – were detained while receiving a 10,000 USD deposit and were taken to the pre-trial detention facility. Four others – residents of Shakhtyorsk, Kiev, Khmelnitsk, and Vinnitsa– were detained at the railway station and released under the recognizance not to leave the city. All of them were described as senior citizens. [3] However, none of the other reports corroborated this information or mentioned any other details on the perpetrators and their seizure.

Uranium metal was encased in special containers at Radon Facility and transported to the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research for additional expert evaluation.[4] Investigation of the origin of the seized material is underway. Two criminal cases were filed under Article 265 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Illegal handling of radioactive materials"), which provides for a penalty of 2-15 years of imprisonment.[2]

Abstract Number:  20100010
Headline:  Six people detained in Ukraine attempting to sell 2.5 kg of depleted uranium
Date:  17 March 2010
Bibliography:  "SBU zaderzhala gruppu lyudei pri popytke realizatsii 2,5 kg obednyonnogo urana" ["SBU detained a group of people in an attempt to sell 2.5 kg of depleted uranium"], Newsru.ua, 12 May 2010, http://rus.newsru.ua/  
Material:  Depleted uranium

Sources:

[1] "SBU zaderzhala gruppu lyudei pri popytke realizatsii 2,5 kg obednyonnogo urana" ["SBU detained a group of people in an attempt to sell 2.5 kg of depleted uranium"], Newsru.ua, 12 May 2010, http://rus.newsru.ua/
[2] "V Donetskoi oblasti pytalis prodat slitki urana" ["Attempts to sell uranium ingots in Donetsk oblast"], Novosti.dn.ua, 13 May 2010, http://novosti.dn.ua
[3] Alla Konik, "Stariki-razboiniki pytalis prodat uran, chtoby zarabotat na uchyobu vnukam" [Senior citizens attempted to sell uranium in order to earn money to pay their grandchildren’s tuition], Komsomolskaya Pravda v Ukraine, 14 May 2010, http://kp.ua
[4] "Izyatogo v Donetskoi oblasti urana ne khvatilo by dlya proizvodstva ‘gryaznoi’ atomnoi bomby" ["Seized in Donetsk oblast uranium was insufficient for a ‘dirty’ atomic bomb"], Novosti.dn.ua, 14 May 2010, http://novosti.dn.ua

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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.

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