Iranian Passenger Attempted To Smuggle Radioactive Materials From Russia
December 16, 2011

Iranian Passenger Attempted To Smuggle Radioactive Materials From Russia

Russia's customs agency said on Friday that it has seized radioactive metal from the luggage of an Iranian passenger.

The Federal Customs Service said in a statement that its agents found 18 pieces of metal at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after radiation alerts went on.

The customs agency said that the gauges showed that radiation levels were 20 times higher than normal.

"Eighteen metallic objects of industrial origin were found, packed into individual steel boxes," the Russian customs service said in a statement.

"Tests then found that the objects were in fact the radioactive isotope Sodium-22 that had been machine-produced."

Sodium-22 is a positron-emitting isotope that has medical uses such as nuclear medicine imaging.

"Cyclotrons are used in medical and educational establishments in Russia as well as institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences," an unidentified representative of Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom told state RIA Novosti news agency.

There is a strong concern by the U.N. Security Council of Iran having access to nuclear weapons.  The council has barred many nuclear materials from Iran to keep the country from being able to produce these weapons.

Russia has close ties with Iran and has helped it build its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr.  However, Moscow has also echoed the concerns about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program.

The Iranian passenger was headed towards Tehran, the capital and largest city of Iran.


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