Moldova: 3 arrested in in uranium smuggling plot

August 25, 2010 19:48
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CHISINAU, Moldova – Two former policemen and another person were arrested in Moldova on suspicion of trying to sell four pounds (nearly two kilograms) of uranium on the black market authorities said Wednesday, but it was unclear if this was enough for a "dirty bomb."

The uranium-238 had a value of euro9 million ($11.35 million), Interior Ministry spokesman Chiril Motpan said. The traffickers were detained July 20, he said.

Uranium-238 can be enriched to be make weapons, Interior ministry official Oleg Putuntica said. The traffickers were trying to sell the uranium, which was kept in the garage of a former policeman, to people from unspecified countries.

Motpan said the quantity could be used for producing fuel for power stations and in research.

"I don't know whether this quantity could be used for making a homemade nuclear bomb, because the uranium must be enriched for this purpose, and this is possible only in special labs," he said.

The uranium was smuggled into Moldova, Motpan said, but he did not say where it came from.

Moldovan authorities have sent the uranium to a German atomic center to establish the percentage of enrichment and country of origin.

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