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3 held with radioactive material

Police in Slovakia and Hungary say the three were trying to sell the material for $1-million.

Published November 29, 2007


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Police in Slovakia and Hungary arrested three people and seized 2.2 pounds of an unspecified but "dangerous" radioactive material the suspects were trying to sell for $1-million, Slovak authorities said Wednesday.

The Czech news agency CTK, citing unconfirmed reports, said the material seized by authorities was enriched uranium.

Eastern Slovakia's border with Ukraine is the European Union's easternmost frontier, and authorities have spent millions tightening security in the past few years, fearing terrorists or organized crime syndicates could smuggle weapons, explosives and other contraband into the EU.

Slovak and Hungarian police worked together on the case for several months, Korch said. He would not say who they were trying to sell the material to.

There have been concerns that Eastern Europe could be a source of radioactive material for a so-called "dirty bomb," which would use conventional explosives to scatter radioactive debris. Experts say such a weapon would frighten far more people than it would harm.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agencyreported in August that there were more than 250 reported thefts or losses of nuclear material around the world in 2006, about triple the incidents from 2002.

The U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, an organization dedicated to reducing the global threat from nuclear weapons, said last year that Russia remains the prime country of concern for contraband nuclear material.

[Last modified November 28, 2007, 22:57:03]

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