[ RadSafe ] Po-210: What is a unit?
isurveyor at vianet.net.au
Mon Dec 18 17:29:08 CST 2006
The following report is from the
AUSTRALIAN. Can somebody please explain what
is meant by a "unit of radioactivity," as quoted in the article.
Russian spy's fatal dose of poison cost $13m
Correspondents in London
BRITISH police believe the radioactive substance
used to kill former Russian spy Alexander
Litvinenko cost more than $US10 million ($13 million).
According to The Times, preliminary results from
the post-mortem examination on Litvinenko's body
have shown he was given more than 10 times the
lethal dose of polonium-210, large quantities of
which were found in his urine.
"Only a state-sponsored organisation could obtain
such a large amount of polonium-210 without
raising suspicion on the international market,"
said Alexander Goldfarb, a friend of Litvinenko.
United Nuclear Scientific Supplies, based in New
Mexico - one of the few companies allowed to sell
polonium-210 over the internet - said it would
take at least 15,000 units of the isotope to kill someone.
With each unit costing $US69, it would have cost
more than $US10 million to deliver Litvinenko's fatal dose.
"You can't buy this much off the internet or
steal it from a laboratory without raising an
alarm, so the only two plausible explanations for
the source are that it was obtained from a
nuclear reactor or very well-connected
black-market smugglers," an unidentified British security source said.
British detectives working on the case in Moscow
were due to return to Britain this week.
Security sources said Russian officials refused
to ask questions of Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri
Kovtun - both of whom met Litvinenko on the day
he fell ill - that British detectives wanted
answered. They had not complained publicly
because of the importance of the case to
diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia.
High-ranking Kremlin officials have mocked
Litvinenko's boasts, after he defected to
Britain, about his role in their security services.
Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov claimed that
Litvinenko, far from being a top KGB spy as he
liked to claim, was merely a prison guard.
Mr Ivanov said Litvinenko had never had access to
secret or important information and was "of such
poor character" he was dismissed from the Russian
security agency when it was being run by Vladimir Putin.
"He was never a spy and never knew anything of
any real value to give to any (foreign
intelligence) service," Mr Ivanov said. "He was
just a Russian who meant nothing to us."
Referring to the letter in which Litvinenko
accused the Kremlin of poisoning him, Mr Ivanov
said:"We didn't care what he said and what he wrote on his deathbed."
Kremlin officials again described the accusations
of Russian involvement made by Litvinenko and his friends as ludicrous.
Valentin Velichko, a colonel who is president of
Honour and Dignity, a powerful group of KGB
veterans, dismissed Litvinenko as "a nonentity".
He said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya
Gazeta newspaper that Litvinenko was never a
target for Russian intelligence because he was
not important enough to bother with.
The Times, AFP
privacy terms © The Australian
Ivor Surveyor, MD (Brist), FRACP, FRCP
Emeritus Consultant Physician, Nuclear Medicine,
Royal Perth Hospital.
[isurveyor at vianet.net.au]
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