The nation of Georgia has conducted 15 criminal probes and detained dozens of individuals within its borders following the establishment seven years ago of a U.S.-backed law enforcement team focused on catching nuclear smugglers, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
Four of the six probes made public for the first time by Georgian authorities occurred in 2012, and officials said a 2011 incident was tied to a supply of cesium 137 sufficient to fuel a radiological "dirty bomb." Turkey detained an individual this year over a related matter.
A pair of prior occurrences tied to bomb-grade uranium might be connected, according to Georgian government personnel.
An April operation in the Georgian city of Batumi appeared to involve individuals interested in procuring uranium for use in a nuclear bomb.
Nations have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to prevent smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials that remain in one-time Soviet states, AP reported. The threat remains an ongoing worry in Georgia, according to a source with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Regular incidents in past years of radiological substances being offered for purchase point to possible successes in smuggling radiological contraband between countries, according to AP. Still, no reliable figures exist to establish the scale of illicit business involving such materials. Two individuals detained over one incident indicated that the trafficking issue might be worse as a result of the area's financial need as well as lax security at international boundaries.