Moldova court sentences three for uranium trafficking

By on Friday, May 25th, 2012

A court in Moldova sentenced three people Thursday to penalties of up to five years in prison for trafficking radioactive materials including nuclear bomb ingredient Uranium-235.

The group included a 38-year-old Russian woman, who received a three-year prison sentence, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

“Her accomplice got five years in prison and the court sentenced the third accused to pay a fine of 15,000 leu (1,000 euros, $1,250),” the Moldovan public prosecutor’s office told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Police in the ex-Soviet country arrested the group in June 2011 and seized a small container of Uranium-235 for which they had been seeking a buyer, officials said at the time.

Germany, Ukraine and the United States helped in the investigation, the prosecutor said.

Uranium-235 can be used both at nuclear power plants and to produce nuclear weapons.

In August 2010, the Moldovan police seized a container with 1.8 kilogrammes (four pounds) of Uranium-238 and arrested a group of suspected traffickers who had sought to sell it for nine million euros.

Since the fall of the Communist bloc, experts have issued repeated warnings about the trafficking risks posed by former Soviet republics such as Moldova, an impoverished nation bordering Ukraine and EU member Romania.

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