Moldova: Nuclear smuggling deals to Terrororist´s "thwarted"
video: Moldovan gangs try to sell nuclear material
In the former Soviet republic of Moldova, the
police working with the FBI have been reported to have stopped four attempts
already by smugglers to sell nuclear material to the Middle East over the past
An investigation has found that the smuggling gangs
with suspected Russian links have attempted to sell nuclear material to Islamic
extremists from Isis.
In the backwaters of Moldova, authorities working
with the FBI interrupted four attempts in the past five years by the gangs that
sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, The
Associated Press news agency discovered. The latest known case came in February
this year, when a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly
"Caesium 135" enough to contaminate several city
blocks and specifically sought a buyer from Isis. SDR wishes to
note that the Caesium usually wanted for bombs is Caesium 137.
Valentin Grossu, offered the supply of Caesium to what he thought was an Isis
representative in exchange for €2.5 million, according to the
investigation. The representative was in fact an informant.
“You can make a dirty bomb, which would be perfect
for the Islamic State,” the smuggler said in a meeting at a nightclub in the
Moldovan capital of Chisinau. “If you have a connection with them, the
business will go smoothly.”
After initial suspicions and 20 meetings,
Grossu was persuaded the informant was an authentic Isis representative
and the pair met to exchange money, in a sting operation that ended up with
Grossu in jail.
AP writes that, the investigation has also
uncovered an attempt to sell bomb grade uranium to a buyer from the Middle
In that operation, wiretaps and interviews with
investigators show, a middleman for the gang repeatedly ranted with hatred for
America as he focused on smuggling the essential material for an atomic bomb
and blueprints for a dirty bomb to a Middle Eastern buyer.
In wiretaps, videotaped arrests, photographs of
bomb-grade material, documents and interviews, investigators found that
smugglers are explicitly targeting buyers who are enemies of the West.
The developments represent the fulfilment of a
long-feared scenario in which organized crime gangs are trying to link up with
groups such as Isis and al-Qaeda both of which have made clear their ambition
to use weapons of mass destruction.
The sting operations involved a partnership between
the FBI and a small group of Moldovan investigators, who over five years went
from near total ignorance of the black market to wrapping up four sting
Informants and police posing as connected gangsters
penetrated the smuggling networks, using old-fashioned undercover tactics as
well as high-tech gear from radiation detectors to clothing threaded with
However their successes were undercut by striking
shortcomings: Kingpins got away, and those arrested evaded long prison
sentences, often quickly returning to nuclear smuggling. For strategic
reasons, in most of the operations arrests were made after samples of nuclear
material had been obtained rather than the larger quantities. That means that
if smugglers did have access to the bulk of material they offered, it remains
in criminal hands.
The repeated attempts
to peddle radioactive materials signal that a thriving
nuclear black market has emerged in an impoverished
corner of Eastern Europe on the fringes of the former Soviet Union. Moldova,
which borders Romania, is a former Soviet republics.
What is Caesium-135 ?
Normally when it comes to dirty bombs we talk about
cesium 137 so we now ask what is 135?
Caesium-135 is a mildly radioactive isotope of Caesium,
undergoing low-energy beta decay to barium-135 with a half-life of 2.3 million
years. It is one of the 7 long-lived fission products and the only alkaline
one. In nuclear reprocessing, it stays with Cs-137 and other medium-lived
fission products rather than with other long-lived fission products. The low
decay energy, lack of gamma radiation, and long half-life of 135Cs make this
isotope much less hazardous than 137Cs or 134Cs.
A nuclear reactor will also produce much smaller
amounts of 135Cs
Yahoo news writes what we at SDR
think might be incorrect the :
In many of the smuggling cases, the
ringleaders insulated themselves through a complex network of middlemen who
negotiated with buyers in order to shield the bosses from arrest. In this case,
Chetrus was the go-between.
Yahoo has never been brokers in the
shady great areas, so here it is how a long chain is created and its not for
the sake of safety but rather greed that create that chain. The long chain
mostly has the outcome that no deal ever takes place
The following is an example;
Already in the early 90s Europe
attempts where made to sell Caesium,
SDR already know of attempts by
amateur brokers trying the same in the early 90s!
then most of Europe had no laws on what a broker can sell and what was little
known then and not prohibited was offshore firms. The problem with the so called mixed brokers (
selling anything from sugar to metal ) were that when they did get a mail they
would then offer it further via fax machine, where the brokers commonly changed
names replacing the name with the new seller representatives with “him
self”. So if any deal would manage to go forward the entire chain would
be 10 or more persons waiting for the deal to happen without knowledge of each
other….. This was so common it even had a name: Amateur Broker chain.
Its not to be neglected as a joke as
in the early 90s many commodity deals actually took off and all of Europe
bought any high grade metal from the former Soviet and very little questions
Luckily for all of us the strategic
materials never made it to any end user.
It was rumoured back then that Saddam
Hussein was the buyer of anything thinkable however it was most likely just a
Back to the present day….
The Moldovan police and judicial authorities shared
investigative case files with the AP exclusively it seem in an effort to
spotlight how dangerous the black market has become. They say a breakdown
in cooperation between Russia and the West means that it is much harder to know
whether smugglers are finding ways to move parts of Russia's vast store of
Unimaginable but real was the following comment:
“We can expect more of these cases,” said Constantin Malic, one of the Moldovan
investigators. “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without
getting caught, they will keep doing it.”
The FBI and the White House declined to comment.
The US State Department would not comment on the specifics of the
US Department of State praises Moldova
“Moldova has taken many important steps to
strengthen its counter nuclear smuggling capabilities,” said Eric Lund,
spokesman for the State Department's bureau in charge of nonproliferation. “The
arrests made by Moldovan authorities in 2011 for the attempted smuggling of
nuclear materials is a good example of how Moldova is doing its part.”
The wiretapped conversations exposed plots that
targeted the United States, the Moldovan officials said. In one case, a
middleman said it was essential the smuggled bomb-grade uranium go to Arabs,
said Malic, an investigator in all four sting operations. “Malic
said: 'I really want an Islamic buyer because they will bomb the
The middleman, a former KGB informant called Teodor
Chetrus clung to a Soviet-era hatred of the West, Malic said, repeatedly
ranting about how the Americans should be annihilated because of problems he
thought they created in the Middle East. “He said multiple times that
this substance must have a real buyer from the Islamic states to make a dirty
bomb,” Malic said.
The three other thwarted deals seen were:
- In 2010 three people were arrested after a
sawn-off piece of a depleted uranium cylinder was exchanged for cash.
- Investigators broke up a deal in 2011 to
sell weapons-grade uranium to a potential buyer in the Middle East.
- 2014 a sample of unenriched uranium was
exchanged for $15,000 (£9,800). Six people were arrested but five got
Dirty bomb Cesium in the past:
There have only ever been two cases of
caesium-containing bombs, and neither were detonated. Both involved Chechnya.
The first attempt of radiological terror was carried out in November 1995 by a
group of Chechen separatists, who buried a caesium-137 source wrapped in
explosives at the Izmaylovsky Park in Moscow. A Chechen rebel leader alerted
the media, the bomb was never activated, and the incident amounted to a mere
In November 1995 by a group of Chechen separatists,
who buried a caesium-137 source wrapped in explosives at the Izmaylovsky Park
in Moscow. A Chechen rebel leader alerted the media, the bomb was never
activated, and the incident amounted to a publicity stunt.
In December 1998, a second attempt was announced by
the Chechen Security Service, who discovered a container filled with
radioactive materials attached to an explosive mine. The bomb was hidden near a
railway line in the suburban area Argun, ten miles east of the Chechen capital
of Grozny. The same Chechen separatist group was suspected to be
involved. Despite the increased fear of a dirty bombing attack, it is
hard to assess whether the actual risk of such an event has increased
significantly. The following discussions on implications, effects and
probability of an attack, as well as indications of terror groups planning
such, are based mainly on statistics, qualified guessing and a few comparable