Armenia strengthens control over radioactive material export-import

Publish date: November 8, 2004

This decision followed the smuggling attempt of cesium-137 in October.

The Armenian government approved the licensing order of the radioactive materials, RIA-Novosti reported. The new order should prevent illegal shipment of the materials and equipment containing radioactive materials and protect the population from the hazardous irradiation.

In October Armenian authorities had arrested a man found with radioactive cesium-137 in the trunk of his car. The highly toxic material, which could contaminate large areas if used in a “dirty bomb”, was found on Friday and “rendered harmless”, Ashot Martirosian, chief of the State Atomic Oversight department, said to AP. Yerevan resident Gagik Tovmasian was arrested on charges of illegal trade in radioactive materials, Mr Martirosian said. It was unclear how the man obtained the material but there were various sources in Armenia, a small former Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountains, Mr Martirosian said. Various industries use cesium-137 in density gauges and for machine calibration. Devices containing cesium-137 can cause serious radiation exposure if broken and held. Depending on the amount and form, experts say a dirty bomb made with cesium-137 could spread intense radioactivity over a section of a city, making it uninhabitable.

In February, Mr Martirosian said a powerful source of radiation was found on the Armenian-Iranian border among scrap metal headed for Iran, AP reported.

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