Cablegate: Alleged Nuclear Smuggling Incident in Bujumbura,
DE RUEHJB #0479/01 1781623
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 271623Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0401
INFO RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0006
S E C R E T BUJUMBURA 000479
DEPT FOR: DS/IP/AF, DS/IP/ITA
EO 12958 DECL: 06/27/2017
TAGS KCRM, KNNP, MNUC, PARM, PREL, PTER, ASEC, BY
SUBJECT: ALLEGED NUCLEAR SMUGGLING INCIDENT IN BUJUMBURA,
REF: A. 06 STATE 163201 B. 04 STATE 230588
Classified By: XXXXXXXXXXXX reason 1.4 (g,h)
1. (C/NF) Post wishes to alert the Department and Washington agencies per reftels that it has received a report indicating a potential incident of illicit trafficking in nuclear and/or radiological materials. This report came to posts attention via phone contact to the ARSO, XXXXXXXXXXXX on the morning of XXXXXXXXXXXX. informed XXXXXXXXXXXX that two Congolese men introduced to XXXXXXXXXXXX by XXXXXXXXXXXX indicated that they had found a large quantity of chemical items hidden in a stationary concrete bunker on the same property a Belgian family resided on during the Belgian colonial period 107 miles west of Bukavu, Congo. Among the items contained in the stationary bunker were Uranium, Ozone, and Red Mercury. On the afternoon ofXXXXXXXXXXXX received a call from XXXXXXXXXXXX regarding the same items. The following day, XXXXXXXXXXXX met with XXXXXXXXXXXX at the embassy. Following this interview PMAT was notified and briefed.
2. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX They control the items. The ARSO obtained copies of their identification cards.
3. (C/NF) The XXXXXXXXXXXX men indicated that there were 14 items found in the concrete bunker. All items have marking and labels indicating that they were produced in Belgium. The subjects were unable to spell the names of some of the items properly and did not know what the other items were, thus some of the spelling of the items are phonetic.
-Uranium, 30kg, powder form. The men did not know if the uranium was weapon-usable fissile material, highly enriched uranium, what the percentage of uranium-235 isotope or other isotopes were, or how its content was determined. -1 booklet describing the Uranium -Brommerck, 2,500g -Red Brommerk, 12kg -Red mercury, 6kg -Cocaine, liquid form
4. (C/NF) When asked what they intended to do with the items the subjects stated that they brought a vial of the Brommerck, to Bujumbura from the Congo. They planned on selling it to get enough money to transport the Uranium to Bujumbura upon securing a buyer. They also stated that they had not approached anyone else with this information. Their motive for approaching the American Embassy was that they did not want these items to fall into the wrong hands, specifically mentioning that they did not want Muslims to possess the items. When asked why they did not notify the Congolese authorities the subjects stated that they were afraid that the corrupt Congolese police would steal the items and sell it themselves. When asked why they approached the American Embassy in Bujumbura instead of the embassy or Consulate in the Congo they stated that the embassy in Bujumbura is much closer.
5. (C/NF) The ARSO asked the men to provide detailed photos of the items and their labels, especially the Uranium. The subjects agreed to provide photographs and additional information on all items at a later date. They indicated that they could produce a sample of the brommerck, upon request. The ARSO declined, but noticed that the subjects were pushing for a sale of the sample of brommerck,. The ARSO has the contact information of XXXXXXXXXXXX and is currently waiting to receive further photographic information from the subjects.
6. (C/NF) ARSO assessment: This case fits the profile of typical scams involving nuclear smuggling originating from the eastern DRC. ARSO considers this case to be a non-credible case of nuclear smuggling.