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Cablegate: Alleged Nuclear Smuggling Incident at the Russia-Kazakhstan Border

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #2943 3381408
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 041408Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5591
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0349

S E C R E T MOSCOW 002943

SIPDIS

FOR STATE ISN/WMDT AND PM/ISO/PMAT (24/7)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/04/2019
TAGS: ASEC KCRM KNNP KZ MNUC PARM PINR PTER RS UP
SUBJECT: ALLEGED NUCLEAR SMUGGLING INCIDENT AT THE RUSSIA-KAZAKHSTAN BORDER REF: TELEPHONE CONVERSATION BETWEEN FSN AND RUSSIAN CUSTOMS OFFICER RELAYED TO EXBS ADVISOR Classified By: DCM ERIC RUBIN FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, C, D).

1.(S) BEGIN SUMMARY: Post wishes to alert the Department and Washington agencies per reftel that it has received a report indicating a potential incident of illicit trafficking in nuclear and/or radiological materials. This report came to post,s attention via a telephone conversation between a xxxxxxxxxxxx and the Export Controls and Related Border Security (EXBS) FSN, which was relayed to the EXBS Advisor. Post cautions that details of the alleged incident are very sketchy. END SUMMARY.

2.Details of the alleged incident follow:

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION OF MATERIAL ALARM AND DETECTION DETAILS

a. (S) EXBS FSN received a telephone call from a xxxxxxxxxxxx on the Russia-Kazakhstan border. xxxxxxxxxxxx. The telephone call was part of a larger conversation between the EXBS FSN and the officer that occurred some time in August 2009. The information was not relayed to the Advisor immediately after it occurred, but some time later. b. (S) The informant told the FSN that during the summer of 2009, Russian customs officers reported two or three incidents in which unshielded cobalt-60 was detected in railroad passenger cars traveling from Kazakhstan headed for Russia. A large though unspecific number of people were exposed to the cobalt-60 which, while highly radioactive, was not weapons grade. A reportedly one-half to one kilo of the material was seized, although it is not clear whether that was the estimated amount per seizure, or the total amount seized during the two or three incidents. The radioactive materials were discovered at the Russian border with Kazakhstan, when the radiation portal monitors were set off. c. (S) It is assumed that there was an investigation, but it is not known if there were any arrests or detentions. (Note: Russian Customs officials do not have arrest authority; the matters would have been referred to either FSB or MVD. End Note) It is not known who sent the materials out or what their intent was. Post will attempt to verify the information through multiple liaison channels but at this point cannot vouch for its veracity. Beyrle

0 12/04/2009 2675 ASEC,KCRM,KNNP,KZ,MNUC,PARM,PINR,PTER,RS,UP ALLEGED NUCLEAR SMUGGLING INCIDENT AT THE RUSSIA-KAZAKHSTAN BORDER
Post wishes to alert the Department and Washington agencies per reftel that it has received a report indicating a potential incident of illicit trafficking in nuclear and/or radiological materials. This report came to post,s attention via a telephone conversation between xxxxxxxxxxxx and the Export Controls and Related Border Security (EXBS) FSN, which was relayed to the EXBS Advisor. Post cautions that details of the alleged incident are very sketchy.

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