- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

MOSCOW Police arrested seven gang members who were trying to sell a kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of uranium 235 for $30,000, a Moscow police source told Itar-Tass news agency last week.
Six members of the gang from Balachikha, east of Moscow, were arrested in a cafe Tuesday about a dozen miles from the capital. A seventh gang member who had the uranium 235 in his possession was arrested after the other members were questioned.
Uranium 235, which is highly radioactive, is used in the manufacture of atomic bombs and also functions as fuel.
Russian police gave no indication whether the uranium seized was highly enriched, somewhat enriched or in raw mineral form. They also did not give any details about their inquiries so as not to compromise their investigation, the source told Itar-Tass.
President Bush warned leaders from central and eastern Europe last month that suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was seeking to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Trafficking in radioactive material has proliferated since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the slackening of controls over nuclear installations. In Istanbul last month, police seized more than a kilo of uranium apparently sourced from Russia and arrested two Turks who had been trying to peddle it for $750,000.
The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington warned in May that "terrorist groups or dishonest countries have more opportunities to get access to Russian plutonium or highly enriched uranium than was realized until now."

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