Russia seizes radioactive material en route to Iran
LAST UPDATED: 12/16/2011 16:31
18 pieces of radioactive metal found in luggage of Tehran-bound passenger at Moscow airport; no apparent weapons use.
Bushehr nuclear power plant Photo: Reuters
service said on Friday it had seized radioactive sodium-22, an isotope
that is used in medical equipment but has no weapons use, from the
luggage of a passenger planning to fly from Moscow to Tehran.
The service said in a statement that the material could be obtained only
"as a result of a nuclear reactor's operations" but did not say when it
had been discovered at Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport.
'New nuclear plant being built in Isfahan'
The material triggered an alarm in the airport's radiation control system and a luggage search led to the discovery of 18 pieces of the radioactive metal packed in individual steel casings, it said.
The passenger boarded the plane for Tehran and left Russia, the customs service said. It added that the passenger was Iranian national. Russian law enforcement agencies opened criminal investigation into the incident.
Sodium-22 can be used for calibrating nuclear detectors and in medical equipment, nuclear experts said.
"There is no weapons
aspect to this (material)," said Research director Lars-Erik De Geer of
the Swedish Defence Research Institute.
Tension is rising between Western powers and Iran after a United Nations
nuclear watchdog report last month that said Tehran appeared to have
worked on designing a nuclear weapon, and that secret research to that
end may be continuing.
Russia, which built Iran's first nuclear power station, has said it might help Tehran construct more atomic plants.
There was no immediate comment from the International Atomic Energy
Agency on the incident and whether Russian authorities had reported it
to the Vienna-based UN body.