3.8 kilograms stolen uranium seized in Caucasus

Publish date: September 21, 1997

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

Russian police seized 3.8 kilograms of stolen uranium in the home of a man in the North Caucasus town of Ivanov on Thursday. The uranium has been traced to originate at the nuclear research center of Sarov (Arzamas-16).

The police seized the stolen uranium after they detained a gang suspected of trying to sell the highly radioactive substance, according to Interfax news agency. Several times the gang had tried to offer the uranium to prospective buyers in Moscow, the Baltic states and elsewhere. The uranium-238 was kept in a metal cylinder inside a lead isolator. Uranium-238 can be used to produce nuclear bombs by scientists with the bomb-developing know-how.

The police investigators also seized two jars containing highly toxic red mercury-oxide weighing about 2 kilograms. Red mercury is also belived to be a substance for developing small nuclear devices, like those suitcase-sized nuclear bombs former Russian security advisor Alexandr Lebed a week ago claimed that Moscow had lost the track of.

The police says to Interfax that the uranium comes from the federal nuclear research center in Sarov (former Arzamas-16), from where a container went missing in 1994. On september 16th, employees and scientists of the center startet protest actions because of the state’s salary-debt to the center. They claimed that the center is in a catastrophic position and its safety jeopardized, because of poor financing.

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