[ RadSafe ] Outcry as border guards seize British 'dirty bomb'
sjd at swcp.com
Sun Jul 23 20:44:30 CDT 2006
Are you certain this article is not some type of bizarre satire?
sjd at swcp.com
At 12:20 PM 7/23/06 -0700, you wrote:
>What I find interesting is where these gauges were heading for and the
>route they were taking.... Nothing like driving from Kent to
>Tehran........Though the Iranians have better access to isotopes than what
>was in these gauges if they wanted to build a dirty bomb...
>Outcry as border guards seize British 'dirty bomb' lorry heading for Iran
>By JASON LEWIS, The Mail on Sunday
> Border guards seized a British lorry on its way to make a
> delivery to the Iranian military - after discovering it was packed with
> radioactive material that could be used to build a dirty bomb.
> The lorry set off from Kent on its way to Tehran but was stopped by
> officials at a checkpoint on Bulgaria's northernborder with Romania after
> a scanner indicated radiation levels 200 times above normal.
> The lorry was impounded and the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency
> (NPA) was called out.
> On board they found ten lead-lined boxes addressed to the Iranian
> Ministry of Defence. Inside each box was a soil-testing device,
> containing highly dangerous quantities of radioactive caesium 137 and
> The soil testers had been sent to Iran by a British firm with the
> apparent export approval of the Department of Trade and Industry.
> Last night, the head of the Bulgarian NRA, Nikolai Todorov, said he was
> shocked that devices containing so much nuclear material could be sold so
> He said: "The devices are highly radioactive - if you had another 90 of
> them you would be able to make an effective dirty bomb."
> And a spokesman for the Bulgarian customs office, said: "The
> documentation listed the shipment as destined for the Ministry of
> Transport in Tehran, although the final delivery address was the Iranian
> Ministry of Defence.
> "According to the documentation they are hand-held soil-testing devices
> which were sent from a firm in the United Kingdom."
> A leading British expert last night said the radioactive material could
> easily be removed and used to construct a dirty bomb.
> Dr Frank Barnaby from the Oxford Research Group, said: "You would need a
> few of these devices to harvest sufficient material for a dirty bomb.
> Americium-beryllium is an extremely effective element for the
> construction of a dirty bomb as it has a very long half-life, but I would
> be amazed to find it out on the street.
> "I don't know how you would come by it as it is mainly found in spent
> reactor-fuel elements and is not at all easy to get hold of. I find it
> very hard to believe it is so easily available in this device."
> Senior Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay called for the Government to tighten
> up export controls to prevent the Iranian military getting its hands on
> nuclear material.
> He said: "The Prime Minister has accused the Iranian Government of
> sponsoring international terrorism, yet his officials are doing nothing
> to prevent radioactive material which has an obvious dual use being sold
> to their military."
> Little control
> The discovery will add to fears about the lack of control over the sale
> of nuclear material to so-called 'rogue states' which the Government
> claims sponsor international terrorism, particularly as it comes at a
> time when Iran is ignoring international calls to halt its nuclear programme.
> The case has echoes of the arms-to-Iraq affair during which the DTI
> approved exports of apparently innocent civilian equipment to Saddam
> Hussein that was then used to build weapons.
> Mr MacKinlay added: "Our export controls are a mess.
> "The Iranians are resourceful and sophisticated and, just as we saw with
> Saddam Hussein in the past, this is just the sort of method they would
> use to get their hands on the equipment they need for their supposedly
> banned weapons programmes."
> Andrew Maclean, a director of Kent-based Orient Transport Services,
> which was paid by another unnamed British firm to transport the
> radioactive devices to Iran, said the shipment was perfectly legal.
> He said: "We had a letter from the DTI confirming that no export licence
> was needed to send these items to the Iranians.
> "We also alerted customs officials about the goods we were transporting
> before they left the UK and the truck carried all the appropriate warning
> symbols to alert officials and the emergency services of what it was
> Last night a DTI spokesman confirmed: "Exporters do not need a licence
> to transport this sort of material to Iran. It is not covered by our
> export controls."
> In August last year there was a similar incident when a Turkish truck
> carrying a ton of zirconium silicate supplied by a British firm was
> stopped by Bulgarian customs at the Turkish border on its way to Tehran,
> after travelling from Britain, through Germany and Romania, without being
> Zirconium is used in nuclear reactors to stop fuel rods corroding and
> can also be used as part of a nuclear warhead. The metal can be extracted
> from zirconium silicate and its trade is usually tightly controlled.
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