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Moldovan security services prevent sale of dirty bomb to ISIL

Moldovan police in cooperation with FBI have prevented several attempts to sell nuclear material, including a large amount of radioactive cesium for making dirty bomb, to the “Islamic State” in the black market, sputnik.md reports referring to Constantin Malic, a Moldovan investigation officer. 

According to the source, during the last several years, a group of police officers has prevented four similar attempts. In particular, in 2011, smugglers tried to sell weapons-grade uranium to Sudan. They hoped to sell up to ten kilograms of radioactive material, but the agent was arrested when trying to sell a ten-gram sample. The police sent a straw buyer who was to pay for it 320,000 EUR.

The latest detention came in February 2015, when agents planned to sell a large amount of radioactive cesium-137 to the “Islamic State.”

The agents were jailed for not so long terms. Those behind the deals in the black market managed to escape, while the group of investigation officers engaged in that case was dismissed amid the political crisis in Moldova, the source reports.

Simultaneously, Information and Security Service (ISS) Director Mihai Balan said at the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee for National Security, Defense and Public Order, there are grounds for institution of criminal proceedings into the finding of cesium in Chisinau. He said the ISS is already working in this direction and already possesses information about certain people standing behind all this.

Mihai Balan called the cesium incident a signal that makes think of the expediency of organizing a set of measures to reveal other hazardous substances.

“The Interior Ministry officers have already found undeclared radioactive substances previously. Those finds became a reason for court trials and verdicts. The number of such cases in Moldova is not great, but the problem must be under constant control of the state agencies,” the security chief of Moldova said.

Meantime, Ionel Balan, a representative of the National Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Agency, says the cesium-137 was delivered to Chisinau 16 years ago.

In 1998-1999, cesium-137 was stolen from the industrial enterprises in Chisinau and Balti not far from the place, where contaminated soils were found. One of the police versions says the leakage could be a result of corrosion that ruined containers with the radioactive substance.

At present, eight samples of the contaminated soil that was evacuated from the indicated zone were taken. Researches proved that the area in center of Chisinau where cesium was found is no longer dangerous.  An estimated 120 cubic meters of contaminated soil were evacuated from the city and delivered to a special landfill assigned for such purposes.

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