An investigation was under way on Saturday into Russia's black market trade in radioactive materials amid concern that quantities of polonium 210, the substance that killed former spy Alexander Litvinenko, are being stolen from nuclear sites.
Officials from Britain's Atomic Weapons Research Establishment and Porton Down, the government's Defense Science and Technology Laboratory were trying on Saturday to track down the precise source of the polonium 210 that was used in the murder of Litvinenko.
As British police drew up a list of witnesses for questioning over the death, experts warned that thefts from poorly protected nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union were a major problem.
A senior source at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he had no doubt that the killing of Litvinenko was an "organized operation" which bore all the hallmarks of a foreign intelligence agency.
Theories that the death may have involved some form of state sponsorship were being investigated by MI5 and MI6 (British intelligence and counter intelligence) who are investigating the possibility that foreign agents may have been behind the death of Litvinenko.
A senior British security source said they were providing the police with material on "hostile intelligence agencies" operating in the UK, including those from Russia.
"Russia has never really decreased their activity in the UK from the end of the Cold War," he said.
More than anything, the death of the London-based former KGB spy has placed Russia's still thriving trade in radioactive material under scrutiny.
One of the few figures available, a database compiled by researchers at Stanford University in the US, revealed that about 40kg of weapons-usable uranium and plutonium were stolen from poorly protected nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union between 1991 and 2002.
Although the IAEA has no confirmation of polonium finding its way in to the underground trade, there have been several unconfirmed reports of thefts.
In 1993 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reported that 10kg of polonium had disappeared from the Sarov, which produces the rare radioactive material and is described as Russia's own version of Los Alamos, the US government's nuclear research base in New Mexico.
Globally, there have been more than 300 cases during the past four years where individuals have been caught trying to smuggle radioactive material. Last year there were 103 confirmed incidents of trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving radioactive materials, many involving Russia.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures