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AP: Moldova Police Arrested Nuclear Smugglers Who Sought Terrorists to Buy Uranium and Caesium

Wed October 07 2015 4:10 pm  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=75638
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In an exclusive investigation, the AP has uncovered four instances in the last five years in which gangs with suspected Russian ties sought to sell radioactive material through Moldova to buyers from the Middle East, including the Islamic State group.

An informant for the unit led by Contantin Malic, a former Moldovan Police Investigator, was approached by nuclear smuggler Teodor Chetrus. The smuggler was only sentenced to 5 years, and was released early after serving only three years of his prison sentence.

Maldova is a known transshipment point for illegal drugs to Western Europe. The breakaway Republic of Transnistria, still nominally part of Moldova, is known as a haven for smuggling of weapons and women. Some analysts call the reputation for Transnistria “exaggerated.”

Maldova Timeline of Attempted Nuclear Smuggling

2010: 1.8kg of Uranium-238 seized in Chisinau when three people tried to sell it for €9m (£6.6m; $10m)

2011: Six detained for trying sell 1kg of weapons-grade Uranium-235 for €32m; they said they also had access to plutonium

2014: Smugglers allegedly tried to sell 200g of Uranium-235 from Russia to undercover security agents for $1.6m; 1.5kg of Uranium-235 seized close to Moldovan border in Ukraine

2015: Undercover agent bought ampoule of Caesium-135; materials contaminated with Caesium-137 found in central Chisinau

Radiological dispersal devices (RDDs), in which conventional explosives are used to spread radioactive materials, do not pose the same high expertise and materials barriers as nuclear weapons. The acquisition and use of RDDs by terrorists is therefore a high probability threat. While a radiological attack would be unlikely to cause large numbers of casualties, it could incite mass panic, damage economic commerce in affected areas, and require expensive radioactive decontamination procedures.

Moldova is located between Ukraine and Romania. Transnistria is located east-southeast of Chisinau near the Moldovan border with Ukraine.

See also …

Nuclear Threat Initiative NTI — www.nti.org



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IMPORTANT NOTE: All persons referred to as subjects, defendants, offenders or suspects, etc. are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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