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Georgian Authorities Report Seized Illicit Nuclear Material

A vehicle-mounted radiation detector

A vehicle-mounted radiation detector used in a survey in the Republic of Georgia (Georgia, June 2002). (Photo: P. Pavlicek/IAEA )

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Authorities in the Republic of Georgia have reported the seizure of illicit nuclear material, according to the Associated Press news service (AP). The IAEA is aware of the case, which remains under investigation by officials in Georgia and the United States, which reportedly aided the seizure. (Note: The IAEA since has been notified of the incident by Georgian authorities, who reported that it took place in February 2006 and involved 79.5 grams of uranium enriched to 89%).

Authorities told AP that the seized material was about 100 grams of uranium enriched to a level considered to be weapons-grade. It was recovered during a "sting operation" in Georgia in 2006 that involved energy and law enforcement authorities from Georgia and the United States, AP reported.

Over the past several years, the IAEA has been assisting Georgia in the effective monitoring, control, and recovery of nuclear and radioactive materials. The IAEA also maintains a database of reported illicit trafficking incidents. It shows there have been 16 previous confirmed cases in which either highly enriched uranium or plutonium have been recovered by authorities in Georgia and other countries since 1993.

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