Turkish authorities have confiscated a small quantity of cesium 137 after following up on information indicating the radioactive material had been trafficked into the nation from Georgia, RTT News reported last week (see GSN, Nov. 22, 2010).
The countertrafficking force of the Turkish Gendarmerie Command took control of 500 grams of cesium 137, contained in two glass vials, in Ankara when they inspected the vehicle of three Turkish citizens who were visiting from Germany. The three individuals were taken into custody, officials informed Turkish news organizations.
The inside information provided to authorities said the radioactive material originated in Russia but was smuggled to Turkey via Georgia.
Cesium 137 is widely used in medical therapies against cancer and in the industrial building sector, but experts say the material could also be a key ingredient for a radiological "dirty bomb." Such a weapon would use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material (RTT News, April 12).