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.
An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft has acquired imagery data covering all of Mars, including visuals of its south pole, after circling the planet more than 1,300 times since early last year, state media reported yesterday. The Tianwen-1 successfully reached the Red Planet in February last year on the country’s inaugural mission there. A robotic rover has since been deployed on the surface as an orbiter surveyed the planet from space. Among the images taken from space were China’s first photographs of the Martian south pole, where almost all of the planet’s water resources are locked. In 2018, an orbiting probe operated by the European
QUARANTINE SHORTENED: A new protocol detailing risk levels and local policy responses would be ‘more scientific and accurate,’ a health agency spokesman said China’s revised COVID-19 guidelines, which cut a quarantine requirement in half for inbound travelers, also create a standardized policy for mass testing and lockdowns when cases of the disease flare, showing that the country still has a zero-tolerance approach to the virus. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) solidified the position during a trip to Wuhan, where the pathogen first emerged in 2019, saying that China is capable of achieving a “final victory” over the virus. The “zero COVID-19” policy is the most effective and economic approach for the country, Xi said during the trip on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported. The first
A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine said it would have been a “crime” not to use his skills to help. Ken Rhee, a former special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian embassy in Seoul the moment Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March. To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from traveling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations
Yogesh Zanzamera lays out his bed on the floor of the factory where he works and lives, one of about 2 million Indians polishing diamonds in an industry being hit hard by the war in Ukraine. With the air reeking from the only toilet for 35to 40 people, conditions at workshops such as this in Gujarat state leave workers at risk of lung disease, deteriorating vision and other illnesses. However, Zanzamera and others like him have other more immediate worries: the faraway war in Europe and the resulting sanctions on Russia, India’s biggest supplier of “rough” gemstones and a long-standing strategic ally. “There