Interpol Conference Views Illegal Trade in Strategic Materials


Interpol recently convened its first congress on the European continent to address the issue of nuclear technology (including 'red mercury') smuggling out of the former Soviet Union

Militia Lieutenant General Vasiliy Ignatov, head of Interpol's National Central Bureau in Russia, made the following comment: 'We have presented our report, which was very honest and frank...It is no secret that radioactive materials are still being embezzled in our country, but the emphasis must be correctly placed. There is not a single recorded instance - and this was confirmed by everyone - of embezzlement, loss, purchase, or sale of weapons- grade nuclear materials...As a rule, we are talking about slightly enriched radioactive materials or ion-emitting materials, including the broad range of rare-earth metals which have been and still are widely used in different technologies and industrial sectors...Now, as regards 'red mercury'...No red mercury exists in nature, either factually or physically, and such an element is impossible to create. What is being sold, as a rule, are different reagents. There have been instances when any red materials have been described as 'red mercury.' But the problem exists nevertheless... Let me emphasize once more that law enforcement organs will not have to follow radioactive traces abroad if we impose in our own country effective control over the storage and utilization of such materials, something that is unfortunately still lacking.' [See also JPRS-TEN 29 March 1993.]

Abstract Number:  19930190
Headline:  Interpol Conference Views Illegal Trade in Strategic Materials
Date:  6 March 1993
Bibliography:  Rossiiskie Vesti
Material:  'red mercury'

March 6, 1993

This article is part of a collection examining reported incidents of nuclear or radioactive materials trafficking in or originating from the Newly Independent States.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.