Cablegate: Nuclear Smuggling Incident at Pribenik, Slovakia
DE RUEHSL #0630 3331529
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291529Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1345
INFO RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST IMMEDIATE 0956
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV IMMEDIATE 0030
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA IMMEDIATE 3662
C O N F I D E N T I A L BRATISLAVA 000630
DEPT FOR ISN/CTR A. GOODMAN AND M. CURRY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2012
TAGS: ASEC PARM PREL PTER MNUC KCRM KNNP HU UP LO
SUBJECT: NUCLEAR SMUGGLING INCIDENT AT PRIBENIK, SLOVAKIA REF: 06 STATE 163201 Classified By: Lawrence R. Silverman, Deputy Chief of Mission, for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary: Slovak police authorities confirmed to the Embassy November 29 that Slovak and Hungarian police arrested three individuals in eastern Slovakia November 28, during a sting operation as the individuals attempted to sell 500 grams of Uranium 235 or 238. Slovak authorities are still testing the material. Two of the perpetrators are Hungarian, and one is Ukrainian. Two of these are in custody in Slovakia, and the third in Hungary. A fourth individual of Slovak nationality, whom Slovak police consider the leader of the operation, has not yet been apprehended. The operation was initiated by the Slovak police a couple of months based on information developed by Ukranian sources of the Slovak police, and was carried out in cooperation with the Hungarian police. Initial readout from the Slovak police is that the individuals were trying to sell the uranium for cash (they asked for $1 million) as part of a criminal, not terrorist, enterprise. Police have promised to pass us further details November 30. End summary.
2. (C) Details of the incident follow in accordance with instructions reftel. A) Current location of material: in a Slovak Interior Ministry facility specializing in storage of nuclear material in the eastern Slovak town of Jasov. B) Transport status of material: stationary, fully secure. C) Assessment of the likelihood that the appropriate authorities can/will secure the material: 100 percent. D) If in transit, means of transport: n/a E) Intended destination of material: unknown. F) Routing of material: unknown. G) Supplier and/or origination point of material: unknown, possibly Ukraine. H) Type of material: Uranium 235 or 238. I) Date and time of incident: Wednesday, November 28, 2007, at approximately 1330 local time. J) Source of the report: Initially an Associated Press report citing the Czech news agency CTK, then Michal Kopcik, the First Vice President of the Slovak Police, responsible for criminal operations. K) If an alarm, type: n/a L) What else if anything was being smuggled with the material: nothing. M) Specific place where alarm or incident occurred: Pribenik, Slovakia, a border crossing between Slovakia and Hungary. Pribenik is a pedestrian-only crossing near the town of Kralovsky Chimec in far eastern Slovakia. N) Additional details: Slovak police arrested two individuals and Hungarian police arrested one. Of those individuals, one is Ukrainian and two are Hungarian (one of whom resides in Ukraine). The police consider a fourth person of Slovak nationality to be the leader of the operation, but he was not on site at the time of the arrest and remains at large. Embassy expects to receive the names of those involved November 29 or 30. The arrest was the result of a sting operation planned jointly by Slovak and Hungarian police approximately two months ago. The First Vice President of the Slovak Police told us that the police had developed information from a Ukranian source that individuals wanted to sell enriched uranium for $1 million. The Police first considered monitoring the men to see where the uranium was to go, but decided not to take the risk of losing track of the uranium, so launched their own undercover operation to purchase the material. After the deal had been made, two individuals crossed the border at Pribenik from Hungary into Slovakia in order to check that payment had been deposited into their bank account as previously arranged with the undercover officer. When the suspects presented a sample of their uranium to the officer, they were immediately arrested. Hungarian police simultaneously arrested an accomplice, who was waiting in a car across the border in Hungary. Hungarian police confiscated the uranium from the car in Hungary and gave it to the Slovak police. The police will share their modus operandi for the operation with the Embassy at the latest on November 30.