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Moldova Busts Suspected Uranium Traffickers

Moldova on Friday announced it had taken into custody seven people suspected of participating in the black-market trade of uranium and various types of weaponry, Reuters reported.

"We have documented numerous cases involving shipments of hand grenades, TNT blocks, Kalashnkikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher charges and containers with radioactive uranium 235," said Vitalie Briceag, who leads the investigations unit of the Moldovan Interior Ministry.

Briceag did not discuss specifics regarding where the potential nuclear-weapon material came from or to whom it might have been sold.

"We are trying to find out how they acquired (the weapons)," he said.

Germany, Ukraine and the United States supported a probe that led to the May sentencing in Moldova of three suspects in a uranium 235 smuggling case.

The current investigation centers on a crew in the breakaway region of Transdniestria, which has been essentially separate from Moldova for two decades. The sector is a "black hole" for the trafficking of weapons and other items, according to the central Moldovan government. Officials in Transdniestria reject that claim.

NTI Analysis