Thursday, April 16, 2009

Plutonium sale foiled in the Ukraine?

Radio Netherlands reports on a sale of weapons-grade nuclear material that was foiled by Ukraine's intelligence service.

Ukrainian authorities announced on Tuesday that their security services arrested three men last month who were attempting to sell nearly four kilograms of radioactive material.

The radioactive material was produced in Russia before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and probably smuggled into Ukraine through a third country. Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons itself, but it does have nuclear power plants. Only Russia of all the former Soviet republics still has nuclear devices from the old weapons arsenal of the Soviet Union.

...The three men say the material they were trying to sell for 10 million US dollars was plutonium 239, which can be used to create a nuclear explosion. However, further investigation by the Ukrainian authorities has shown that the material is probably americium, an element which cannot cause a nuclear explosion as such, but can be used to manufacture a conventional bomb which would produce radioactive fallout. A bomb of this type is relatively simple to make and would be an ideal weapon for terrorists...

Goodness, I hope no one is waterboarded as a result of this mischievous behavior.

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