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Ukrainian Authorities Seize Possible Dirty-Bomb Material

Armed pro-Russian militants on Tuesday take position in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Kiev authorities on Monday announced they had detained a group of individuals for allegedly attempting to smuggle possible "dirty bomb" material into the southeastern part of the country. Armed pro-Russian militants on Tuesday take position in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Kiev authorities on Monday announced they had detained a group of individuals for allegedly attempting to smuggle possible "dirty bomb" material into the southeastern part of the country. (Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian authorities on Monday announced the seizure of radioactive material that had been smuggled into the country from a separatist region.

The Ukrainian security service's counterintelligence branch apprehended nine individuals on April 30 in the Chernivtsi region, a spokeswoman for the department said in an Interfax-Ukraine report that was translated by the BBC. The security service characterized the seized material as a "source of ionizing radiation which possibly contained uranium-235" with a weight of roughly 1.5 kilograms.

Security service officials are not excluding the possibility that the alleged nuclear smuggling ring was planning to construct a radiological weapon that might be detonated during public gatherings in the southeastern part of Ukraine for the purpose of fomenting political and social unrest.

Department spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko told reporters in Kiev that "the hazardous substance was brought to the territory of Ukraine from the self-proclaimed [Trans-Dniester] republic in a car with an international number plate. The radioactive substance was stored in a makeshift container."

According to initial information, at least one Russian national and a number of Ukrainian citizens were arrested. A criminal investigation has been launched into alleged banned uses of radioactive substances.

Though not anywhere near as deadly as a nuclear weapon, a dirty bomb dispersing radioactive material with conventional explosives could still cause significant environmental and psychological damage.

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Ukraine

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