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Moldova Sentences Would-be Uranium Dealers

Two people received prison sentences on Thursday and another was fined for their part in a scheme uncovered in Moldova to sell a quantity of uranium 235, which can be enriched for use in nuclear weapons, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Sept. 27, 2011).

One defendant, a 38-year-old Russian woman, was ordered to spend three years in prison, Interfax reported."Her accomplice got five years in prison and the court sentenced the third accused to pay a fine of" $1,250, according to the Moldovan public prosecutor's office.

The three were taken into custody in June 2011 in possession of a canister of uranium 235 (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, May 24).

Authorities arrested five people in the Moldovan capital city of Chisinau following an investigation that involved Germany, Ukraine and the United States, Reuters reported. The group's intent was to demand $38 million for 2.2 kilograms of the material, according to law enforcement officials. The enrichment level of the uranium was not immediately known.

Officials at the time said the suspects were preparing to deliver the material to someone from a "Muslim African state." No other details of this claim have been released.

Authorities said the three new convicts had sought to establish an illicit operation focused on procuring, holding and moving uranium, which would be dealt to criminal entities. The two other suspects are the subject of an ongoing probe (Alexander Tanas, Reuters, May 24).

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