Torgovlya Uranom Podorvala Zdorove Prestupnikov
Investigators from the Novosibirsk directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry have completed their investigation into a ring of smugglers who were captured trying to market radioactive materials they obtained from a group that was diverting them from the Ulba Metallurgical Factory in Ust- Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. According to the investigators, the ring was formed in 1995. It was led by Sergey Gorin and Aleksandr Marinov, both former physics instructors at local schools. Later they were joined by Viktor Fomin, Aleksey Aristov, and Oleg Pchelintsev, all of whom were unemployed. For several years they traded in ferrous metals, but then decided to try dealing in radioactive materials. Some middlemen had requested that they try to market ceramic pellets containing U-235 (LEU fuel pellets) diverted from Ulba. The group's business contacts refused to help them market the material, but their efforts to find a buyer attracted the attention of the Novosibirsk police. In order to determine how much nuclear material the smugglers had obtained, the police launched a sting operation in which investigators posed as potential uranium purchasers. After long discussions with the smugglers, the undercover investigators agreed on the terms of a deal according to which money would be transferred to the smugglers in the town of Rubtsovsk (Altay kray). After the transfer had been confirmed, the uranium would be delivered to the buyers in Berdsk (Novosibirsk oblast). On 21 March 1997, the undercover investigators transferred $10,000 to an account in Rubtsovsk. That same day, Fomin and Pchelintsev delivered the uranium by car to the main rail station in Berdsk, where they were arrested. Officers in Rubtsovsk arrested Gorin, Marinov, and Aristov a short time later. All five men are charged with 22 counts related to smuggling and illegal storage of radioactive materials, and face up to eight years in prison if convicted. The five reportedly have suffered serious damage to their health as a result of improper handling of the uranium. Interestingly, although the article originally indicated that the LEU fuel pellets the smugglers were trying to sell had come from the Ulba Metallurgical Factory, it concluded by saying that the source of the material seized in Berdsk had not yet been identified.
Abstract Number: 19980100
Headline: Torgovlya Uranom Podorvala Zdorove Prestupnikov,
Date: 8 February 1998
Bibliography: Kommersant-Daily, by Konstantin Voronov, 8 February 1998
Author: Torgovlya Uranom Podorvala Zdorove Prestupnikov
Orig. Src.: Konstantin Voronov
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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