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Tbilisi Busts Enriched Uranium Smugglers

The Georgian government is charging an undisclosed number of individuals with criminal conduct in connection with a thwarted attempt to sell highly enriched uranium on the black market in Tbilisi.

Zaal Lomtadze, head of the Georgian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources’ Nuclear and Radiation Safety Service, told EurasiaNet.org that police took possession of highly enriched uranium (HEU) during a March 13 sting operation in the Georgian capital. Lomtadze did not disclose how much radioactive material was seized in the sting.

Official charges have been filed in connection with the case, stated Shota Utiashvili, head of the Georgian Ministry of the Interior’s Information and Analysis Department. He would not specify the charges, or the number of individuals facing prosecution.

Lomtadze would not reveal how radioactive the seized material is. Citing unnamed Georgian government sources, an April 13 blog report by The Guardian stated that the HEU was "over 70 percent enriched," which would be of high enough quality to create a crude nuclear bomb.

To read the full story

Molly Corso is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi. Joshua Kucera in Washington, DC contributed reporting to this story.

Tbilisi Busts Enriched Uranium Smugglers

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