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Russian sources confirm uranium seizure in Georgia

Russian sources confirm uranium seizure in Georgia

Russian authorities have confirmed that weapons-grade uranium was confiscated from a Russian citizen in neighboring Georgia, but claim the ex-Soviet republic has not cooperated with Moscow while investigating the incident, the Interfax news agency reported yesterday.
The report, which cited an unidentified source, came shortly after U.S. and Georgian officials said that Georgian authorities, aided by the CIA, set up a sting operation that led to the arrest last year of a Russian man who tried to sell a small amount of nuclear bomb-grade uranium.
In discussing the operation, Georgian officials said attempts to trace the nuclear material since the arrest and investigate the man's claim that he had access to larger quantities have foundered from a lack of cooperation from Russia.
According to Interfax, a source at Russia's nuclear agency, Rosatom, said the opposite was true. It quoted the unnamed source as saying that Georgian authorities had given Russia too small a sample to determine its origin and had refused to provide other information.
The source also said the Russian was detained in December 2005, while a Georgian Interior Ministry official, Shota Utiashvili, said yesterday that he was detained in February 2006. Utiashvili identified the man as Oleg Khinsagov, resident of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, a Russian region that borders Georgia.
There was no immediate response to requests for comment lodged with Rosatom, the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry prior to the Interfax report. Following the report, Rosatom spokesman Ivan Dybov said the agency would not comment.
The account appeared to be aimed at sowing doubt that the uranium came from Russia and averting accusations of a lack of cooperation on Moscow's part in ensuring the security of nuclear materials and battling terrorism - two areas in which Russia says it is working actively with other nations, including the United States.
Russian ties with Georgia are badly strained, including over Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's efforts to decrease Russian influence and move closer to the West, as well as Georgia's concerns about Russian support for the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
According to Interfax, the source confirmed several aspects of the Georgian account, saying that a Russian citizen living in North Ossetia was detained while carrying uranium that turned out to be enriched by more than 90 percent, to weapons grade.


Updated : 2021-05-17 00:31 GMT+08:00