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    Radioactive Uranium Seized In Moldova


    by NTDTelevision

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    Three people in Moldova have been arrested for attempting to smuggle radioactive uranium. Police surveillance in the ex-Soviet republic revealed the smugglers dealing with countries who seek uranium for military purposes.

    Police in the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova have seized about 4 pounds of radioactive uranium and arrested three smugglers, government officials said on Tuesday

    The substance was sent for tests in the United States, which showed it to be uranium-238.

    [Oleg Putintica, Moldovan Interior Ministry Investigative Committee]:
    "We carried out surveillance for about one month. We don't yet know where this material came into the country from. They were very active in seeking buyers, especially from among the so-called 'risky countries.' From the negotiations they had it was concluded that they figured this was the way to make the most money, because uranium can be used for military purposes, to make a bomb.”

    Moldovan authorities are now waiting for tests conducted in Germany to determine the country of origin of the uranium.

    [Oleg Putintica, Moldovan Interior Ministry Investigative Committee]:
    "The suspects will be tested [for radioactivity] during the investigation because they have more than once had contact with uranium and even used some kind of instrument to cut out samples [of uranium]. Thus they run the danger of radioactive contamination."

    A value of 11 million U.S. dollars was put on the haul. The Moldovan Interior Ministry said three people have been arrested and several others were being sought. Two members of the group were former police officers.

    One of Europe's poorest states, Moldova borders Romania and Ukraine, standing at the crossroads between eastern and western Europe.

    EU officials say its territory, which includes the rebel territory of Transdniestr bordering Ukraine, is vulnerable to all types of smuggling, including narcotics and human trafficking.