Armenia yesterday confirmed it detained one of its citizens earlier this year for allegedly supplying weapon-grade uranium to two confessed traffickers who tried to resell the material in neighboring Georgia, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Nov. 8).
"In the framework of cooperation between Armenian and Georgian security agencies, Garik Dadayan was arrested in April on suspicion of complicity in smuggling enriched uranium into Georgia," Armenia's National Security Service said in a statement to the news agency (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, Nov. 9).
Dadayan in 2005 spent months in custody for attempting to smuggle 7 ounces of highly enriched uranium across Armenia's border with Georgia two years earlier, the London Guardian reported. He initially freed himself through payoffs to authorities after the uranium triggered a border radiation scanner, but he was eventually detained in Armenia. Still, Dadayan completed only a fraction of his 30-month sentence.
The alleged uranium supplier might have retained material from his prior infraction that he later sold to Hrant Ohanian and Sumbat Tonoian, the two traffickers arrested in Georgia this year, Georgian law enforcement officials told the Guardian.
Dadayan claimed to have access to larger amounts of highly enriched uranium from sources in Siberia and the Urals, the newspaper reported.
Assessments indicate that 700 metric tons of weapon-usable uranium is held in hundreds of sites dispersed around Russia, according to the Guardian. Security measures differ at the various locations.
Highly enriched uranium appeared to be becoming more scarce within international smuggling networks, but events in Russia could prompt an increase in illegal transactions involving nuclear-weapon components, Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said.
"There is a new danger that the level of corruption in Russia and the increasing immunity of senior officers means that they may well try to sell this stuff again," the official said (Julian Borger, London Guardian, Nov. 8).