149 cases of nuclear trafficking in 2006: IAEA
At least 15 cases involved the seizure of nuclear and radioactive materials from individuals who possessed them illegally.Updated: Feb 02, 2007, 13:38 IST
The United Nations atomic watchdog agency has reported 149 incidents of illicit trafficking and other unauthorised activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials in 2006.
Of these, 15 involved the seizure of nuclear and radioactive materials from individuals who possessed them illegally, according to preliminary figures released by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Office of Nuclear Security.
"Some of these individuals were attempting to sell the material or smuggle it across national borders," IAEA said in a statement on Thursday.
"Six of these incidents involved nuclear materials. Five involved materials such as natural uranium, depleted uranium, and thorium and one involved high-enriched uranium (HEU)," it said.
In the latter case, Georgia reported that in February last year, 79.5 grammes of uranium enriched to 89 per cent was seized from a group of criminals in Tbilisi, the capital.
The other incidents of illegal possession reported involved radioactive sources. Just last week, the IAEA noted another reported case in which Georgia seized about 100 gms of uranium enriched to a level considered to be weapons-grade in a sting operation.
Over the past several years, the agency has been assisting Georgia in the effective monitoring, control, and recovery of nuclear and radioactive materials.
The other 134 incidents reported to the IAEA in 2006 included 85 involving theft or loss of nuclear or other radioactive materials, mainly radioactive sources.
In about 75 per cent of the cases, the materials lost or stolen had not been recovered at the time of reporting, it added.
The remaining 49 involved other unauthorized activities, primarily unauthorized disposal of radioactive sources and radioactively contaminated materials and discovery of uncontrolled, or orphan, radioactive materials.
Another 103 incidents were reported in 2006 that occurred in previous years.