AN INVESTIGATION is underway after Hungarian and Slovak police seized a package of enriched uranium at the Pribeník-Lácacséke border crossing in eastern Slovakia on November 28 – enough to make a dirty bomb, police said.
Smugglers planned to sell the 481.4 grams of uranium for $3,500 a gram, which would have made it a Sk38-million deal (€2,370), said the vice-president of the Slovak police corps, Michal Kopčík.
The sale never happened because the buyers never showed up to take the delivery. Kopčík did not specify who was supposed to buy the uranium.
Police did arrest three people who tried to sell the uranium – one Ukrainian man and two Hungarian citizens, one of whom lived in Ukraine.
“Even though the sale was not completed, we decided to arrest the sellers without the buyers, so that there would not be a big leak of radioactive material among the public,” Kopčík told journalists. “That is why we cannot say now where this stuff was heading.
The uranium probably came from one of the former Soviet Union countries, he said.
“This uranium is the more dangerous kind, as it in the powder form,” Kopčík said. “It can be used to make a dirty bomb (and) in various forms for various terrorist attacks.”
The investigation into the smuggling started in August, when police learned that radioactive materials could be purchased in Fiľakovo. The police department that deals with organised crime documented prospective buyers and sellers for the materials.
The material was supposed to be imported to Slovakia from Hungary. That is why the Slovak police contacted their neighbours to the south.
In October, security forces were informed that more than 1.5 kilograms of radioactive material was buried in Hungary, but that was not confirmed.
That month, a man allegedly brought two grams of uranium into Slovakia for buyers to verify it. Eugen K. was then arrested in the Czech Republic by Czech police during a sting near Uherské Hradiště, along with two other men.
According to the International Agency for Atomic Energy, there have been 1,250 cases of people trying to illegally sell radioactive material in the last 12 years.
3. Dec 2007 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from Aktualne.sk and ČTK