Thursday, November 29, 2007
Slovakian police confiscated what they believe to be enriched uranium during a raid on arms dealers yesterday morning. The finding fuels suspicions that the former Soviet Republics are not properly safeguarding their nuclear materials. It is equally disturbing to note that the uranium was smuggled in what appears to be a mason jar cloaked in saran wrap.
The jar contained uranium of isotopes of both the 238 and rarer 235 flavors, a level of sophistication that proves the material was processed. Fortunately, uranium in powder form is particularly useful for the construction of a thermonuclear weapon. However, since it is ideal for use in a "dirty bomb". This makes the question "where did it come from?" far less intriguing than "where was it going?". Hungarian and Slovakian authorities cooperated in the raid so it is obvious that these smugglers had a multi-national operation, but it is not known which direction the arms were flowing. Since the arrests were made in the northeastern portion of Slovakia along the Hungary and Ukranian border we can reasonably assume that the material was procured from the Ukraine. From here we can imagine all sorts of delightful scenarios where arms dealers from Lithuania, Belarus, and elsewhere distribute similar goods to neerdowells like Syria.
If the value of the material could be determined it would be easier to venture who the buyer was, care to approximate the value of an enriched and powdered blend of U-235/U-238?