37 kg of uranium seized on Kazakhstan border

Publish date: January 31, 2005

Customs in the southern Russian city of Orenburg have seized a container with 37 kilograms of depleted uranium heading to Kazakhstan on unknown date.

This news was first reported by ITAR-TASS correspondent Alexey Mikhalin on December 29,2004, but then for some reasons it was repeated by the ITAR-TASS agency again on January 28, where the day of the incident was … January 26. Both reports are almost identical.

The agency cited in the latter report a spokesman at the Federal Customs Service saying that offisers of the Orenburg customs service on the Kazakhstan border spotted the dangerous cargo on January 26 during examination of a car with a radiation detector. The radiation-emitting object was a cylindrical protective container intended for remote manipulation with radioactive substances.

It contained 37.5 kilograms of uranium-238, which is a depleted form. An owner of the container described it in a customs declaration as a “dumb-bell”. He said he had found it at a dump and used it for exercise and sometimes straightened nails with it. Specialists are looking for the origin of the container. A criminal case on an attempt of a radioactive substance smuggling has been initiated.

Specialists of the Russian Agency of Atomic Energy told Itar-Tass that neither a conventional nor a “dirty” bomb could be made from the confiscated amount of uranium.