Uranium seized in France could have made low- grade bomb

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Uranium seized in France could have made low- grade bomb

Posted:10:14 PM (Manila Time) | October 21, 2001 Agence France-Presse

PARIS - French authorities confirmed that five grams of Uranium 235 seized in Paris in July are highly radioactive and could have been used to produce a low-grade bomb, according to experts cited by a French newspaper on Sunday.

An expert report recently presented to Judge Francoise Travaillot, a French investigative judge, and cited in the weekly publication Journal du Dimanche, said the material was "a highly radioactive substance... of Russian origin."

While the uranium was not of a high enough quality to manufacture a proper nuclear bomb, it could have been use to make what experts call a "dirty bomb", a radioactive explosive device that would not provoke extensive material damages but was meant to contaminate and pollute.

After extensive analysis by the experts, police authorities said they believed the Uranium 235 was likely to have come from the Ukraine, according to the newspaper.

In recent years, suspected radioactive material has been seized by police authorities in several European countries, including Turkey and France.

While in most cases the seized samples have turned out to be innocuous substances or low-grade radioactive materials which could not be used to produce nuclear weapons, EU authorities are increasingly worried about the possible use by terrorist organizations of nuclear material smuggled out of the former Soviet republics.

According to the report presented to the French authorities, the uranium seized in Paris had been stolen from a research laboratory or a dismantling center for nuclear submarines.

A French national and two people from Cameroon were arrested by the Financial Research and Investigation Brigade (BRIF) in the course of the investigation.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 21, 2001

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