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Wikileaks: frightening revelations about nuclear theft

The leaked cables tell hair-raising tales of casks of uranium found in wicker baskets in Burundi, a retired Russian general offering to sell “uranium plates” in Portugal, and a radioactive Armenian car on the Georgian border.

WikiLeaks cables: How US ‘second line of defence’ tackles nuclear threat Diplomatic dispatches reveal world of smugglers, ex-military fixers and radioactive materials found in unlikely locations Julian Borger and Karen McVeigh * guardian.co.uk, Sunday 19 December 2010The leaked US cables reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack.

The leaked cables tell hair-raising tales of casks of uranium found in wicker baskets in Burundi, a retired Russian general offering to sell “uranium plates” in Portugal, and a radioactive Armenian car on the Georgian border.

As part of what the US government calls its “second line of defence”, it is America’s diplomatic corps who are called out in the middle of the night when radiation detectors goes off on a border crossing or smugglers turn up with fissile or radioactive materials in his pocket.

Each time that happens, and UN data suggests it has happened about 500 times in the past 15 years, it means the “first line of defence” has already been breached. The fissile material (the fuel for a nuclear warhead) or radioactive isotopes (which emit harmful radiation), have already been stolen from their source.

Three months after taking office, Barack Obama vowed to secure all the world’s vulnerable nuclear stocks within four years in a global drive to pre-empt nuclear terrorism. But a cash-strapped Congress has yet to do approve any increase in funding for the ambitious project and Obama’s deadline looks almost certain to be missed. Meanwhile, from Africa to the former Soviet Union, there are signs it may already be too late………….

the post-Soviet nuclear black market has remained closer to home. An illicit trafficking database maintained by the IAEA records 500 incidents since the mid-90s, involving “the theft or loss of nuclear or other radioactive material”. Of those, 15 involved high enrichment uranium (HEU) and plutonium, from which nuclear warheads are made. Most of those were in former Soviet republics or in eastern Europe……

WikiLeaks cables: How US ‘second line of defence’ tackles nuclear threat | World news | The Guardian

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December 21, 2010 - Posted by | EUROPE, safety, Uranium, Wikileaks

1 Comment »

  1. […] in these regions, something that became painfully obvious with the latest Wikileaks revelations (here and […]

    Pingback by COMMENT: Rosatom’s foreign market strategy: Exporting nuclear risks for questionable profit — Bellona.org | January 6, 2014 | Reply


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