Smuggling of nuclear materials detected in Republic of Georgia has ominous implications

21 June 2007: There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the possibility of a nuclear attack on American soil, especially in consideration of missing and stolen nuclear material that becomes available on the black market. Most intelligence experts believe that such materials and components – if not devices themselves – have already been smuggled into the U.S.
To underscore the fact that nuclear material intended for weapons use is being smuggled from countries that used to be part of the former Soviet Union, reports yesterday originating from the Republic of Georgia confirm that a vehicle carrying plutonium mixed with beryllium attempted to cross into Georgia from Azerbaijan. Georgian border personnel conducting a routine check of vehicles entering the country from Azerbaijan found one car carrying the nuclear material after detecting a high amount of radiation coming from the vehicle. Because of the inability of Georgian officials to handle the nuclear material, they simply turned the vehicle away, forcing it to go back to Azerbaijan. It is unclear where officials in Azerbaijan were alerted of the traffic stop.

The origin of the nuclear material and other details were not immediately known or reported.

The fact that Beryllium was one of the nuclear components identified is significant, as it is used in the construction of a nuclear bomb. By using Beryllium in nuclear bombs, the amount of enriched Uranium or Plutonium needed is significantly reduced, making the construction of an actual bomb easier. The discovery that one material found during that inspection was Beryllium should not be lost on intelligence officials, as the smuggling of this material is an important indication of nuclear bomb construction most likely by terrorists intending to construct and detonate a nuclear device.