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Highly secret transport of Highly Enriched Uranium to secret Russian facility

In the largest such operation ever mounted, U.S. and Kazakh officials transferred 11 tons of highly enriched uranium and 3 tons of plutonium some 1,890 miles by rail and road across the Central Asian country………….

U.S., Kazakhstan complete secret transfer of nuclear materials, KansasCity.com,  By JONATHAN S. LANDAY, McClatchy Newspapers, 18 Nov 10, WASHINGTON – Working under extraordinary secrecy, the U.S. and Kazakh governments in the past year have moved nuclear material that could have been used to make more than 770 bombs from a location feared vulnerable to terrorist attack to a new high-security facility.

In the largest such operation ever mounted, U.S. and Kazakh officials transferred 11 tons of highly enriched uranium and 3 tons of plutonium some 1,890 miles by rail and road across the Central Asian country………….

The sparsely populated region where the storage facility is also is home to the defunct Semipalatinsk Test Site, a 7,000-square-mile expanse of steppe where the Soviet Union conducted more than 460 nuclear test explosions from 1949 to 1990 while Kazakhstan was a Soviet republic.

“The project is a very significant technical achievement,” D’Agostino said in an interview Nov. 8 that McClatchy Newspapers agreed to embargo until the operation was completed. “This isn’t stuff you just put on a truck and drive across a country.”

The United States spent $219 million on the project. Britain kicked in $4 million and Kazakhstan also contributed some funding, U.S. officials said.

“The cost is very, very small compared to the cost of the wrong people getting their hands” on the material, said a U.S. official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the project publicly……………

The U.S. officials declined to elaborate on the threat, citing classified intelligence.

Aktau, however, sits directly across the Caspian Sea from Russia’s Northern Caucasus region, where al-Qaida-linked Islamic separatists are engaged in insurgencies in the republics of Dagestan and Chechnya.

Iran, which Western officials accuse of pursuing a clandestine nuclear-weapons program, also has a Caspian Sea coast. Tehran denies that it is seeking nuclear arms……….

Until Kazakhstan, the largest transfer operation returned nearly 1,000 pounds of highly enriched uranium – enough for 18 bombs – to Russia from Poland, a project that was completed in September…..

U.S., Kazakhstan complete secret transfer of nuclear materials – KansasCity.com

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November 18, 2010 - Posted by | Kazakhstan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | , , , , , , ,

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