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Car with nuclear cargo denied entry (Customs just told them to go back to Azerbaijan)
LA Times ^ | June 20, 2007 | Times Wire Reports

Posted on 06/20/2007 5:48:56 AM PDT by PapaBear3625

Georgian [the country south of Russia, not the US state ] customs officers sent a car carrying a mixture of plutonium and beryllium back into Azerbaijan after foiling an attempt to smuggle the materials over the border, Georgian television reported.

Customs officials found the materials, which can be used in nuclear bombs, in what appeared to be a routine check as the car was driven over the border from Azerbaijan, the Imedi television station reported.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: azerbaijan; beryllium; georgia; nuclear; plutonium; smuggling; wot
Hat tip to Captain's Quarters blog.

You encounter a vehicle containing plutonium and you tell them to just turn around and go back?!?!?

1 posted on 06/20/2007 5:49:01 AM PDT by PapaBear3625
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To: PapaBear3625
Guess it never occurred to them to actually confiscate the stuff?
2 posted on 06/20/2007 5:50:17 AM PDT by Sax
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To: Sax

Probably no HAZMAT suits at the border post.


3 posted on 06/20/2007 5:52:17 AM PDT by AU72
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To: PapaBear3625
Here is another article with more detail, from a news service that we are not barred from posting from:
Georgian customs officers sent a car carrying a mixture of plutonium and beryllium back to Azerbaijan after foiling an attempt to smuggle the materials over the border, Georgian television reported on Tuesday.

Customs officials found the materials, which can be used in nuclear bombs, in what appeared to be a routine customs check as the car was driven over the border from Azerbaijan, the Imedi television station reported.

"Georgian customs detected a high level of radiation while checking one of the cars," Imedi reported. "They discovered plutonium-beryllium."

There were scant details about the find.

The car was sent back to Azerbaijan although smuggling nuclear materials is a crime under Georgian law. It was unclear if Azeri authorities had been informed.

"The decision to send it back was made," Soso Kakushadze, head of the environment ministry's radiation department, told Reuters.

"It was the right decision as it would have been very expensive to keep it in Georgia and special conditions are needed," he said.

Reports did not indicate where the plutonium and beryllium was from. Interior ministry officials declined to comment.

Plutonium is used in most nuclear weapons, but several kilograms are needed to make even a primitive atomic bomb.

Beryllium, a toxic metal, can be used to form a neutron initiator that triggers a nuclear explosion. It can be used to moderate nuclear reactions.

Georgian special services foiled an attempt by a Russian citizen to sell weapons-grade uranium for $1 million in Georgia in February 2006.

Radioactive materials were used to generate power in remote areas in Soviet times but during the chaos that accompanied the fall of the Soviet Union many devices were abandoned.


4 posted on 06/20/2007 5:53:36 AM PDT by PapaBear3625
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To: AU72
Probably no HAZMAT suits at the border post.

Ok, detain the entire car until and Nuke/Bio/Chem team can arrive. No way should that stuff been allowed to just drive off.

From the article update: "It was the right decision as it would have been very expensive to keep it in Georgia and special conditions are needed."

I get the feeling it's going to be much more expensive dealing with it down the road rather than the state it was currently in.

5 posted on 06/20/2007 5:59:37 AM PDT by Sax
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To: PapaBear3625

Border Guard: Anything to declare?

Driver: Just 5 cartons of cigarettes and a couple cases of plutonium and beryllium.

Border Guard: Sorry but we’ve got to confiscate the cigarettes.


6 posted on 06/20/2007 6:00:31 AM PDT by Obie Wan
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To: Sax; freema
Guess it never occurred to them to actually confiscate the stuff?

Why would they even consider that? You do know that both countries are Islamic and the final product is intended for Russia don't you. This incident was simply a message to Russia. Very likely the words run along the lines of:

"The freedom fighters in Chechnya have new options"

Semper Fidelis

also ping to Freema

7 posted on 06/20/2007 6:02:09 AM PDT by MrEdd (L. Ron Gore creator of "Fry-n-tology" the global warming religion.)
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To: PapaBear3625

Guess they already have their own supply.


8 posted on 06/20/2007 6:02:19 AM PDT by SouthTexas
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To: PapaBear3625

Well, it is a stronger stance than what would have been done at our border.


9 posted on 06/20/2007 6:06:30 AM PDT by uptoolate (How can a Holy, Righteous, and Just God NOT kill me for what I said, thought and did yesterday)
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To: MrEdd

Agreed. You are 100% right on target.


10 posted on 06/20/2007 6:07:54 AM PDT by Sax
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To: Sax

What the hell are they thinking ? The car should have been impounded and the people arrested !


11 posted on 06/20/2007 6:08:37 AM PDT by CORedneck
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To: PapaBear3625

Maybe they wanted to see where the car would go once it went back?


12 posted on 06/20/2007 6:11:44 AM PDT by Fresh Wind (Without the fence, deporting illegals is like shoveling water.)
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To: MrEdd
Why would they even consider that? You do know that both countries are Islamic and the final product is intended for Russia don't you.

From CIA Factbook on Georgia: Orthodox Christian 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7% (2002 census)

13 posted on 06/20/2007 6:19:13 AM PDT by PapaBear3625
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To: PapaBear3625
The article is written like the car had large quantities of Pu and Be. It does not say what the Pu isotope was. It vaguely hints that the Pu and Be were together.

Most likely, the car had a device with a small neutron source, like a nuclear gage of some sort. Some lead detectors have sources in them.

They may have been sent back because they didn’t have the paperwork exactly right. The border folks would have no authority to seize a commercial source.

When you want neutrons, you mix Pu and Be (most likely Pu238, used as an alpha source, it cannot be used in a nuke) and neutrons come out. Nicknamed PuBe sources.

PuBe sources are not too dangerous, but if you had a sensitive nuke detector at a border, you’d pick up the neutrons coming from it. The common ones are safer than a source used for weld radiography, for instance.

Journalists should learn a little science; on the other hand it’s hard to scare people with hysterical articles if you look stuff up first. Just putting the word plutonium up gets a reaction from folks.

14 posted on 06/20/2007 6:23:07 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: PapaBear3625
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5097123.html

Here is a patent that makes use of either a PuBe source, or AmBe, for borehole neutron activation logging. Lots of N borehole loggers use a neutron generating tube, this patent is for a borehole logger that uses an isotope source.

15 posted on 06/20/2007 6:27:12 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: FARS; milford421; Founding Father; Calpernia; Velveeta

Ping to #4


16 posted on 06/20/2007 7:19:29 AM PDT by nw_arizona_granny (When God spoke to the world, were you listening?)
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To: PapaBear3625

“Plutonium is used in most nuclear weapons,”

Plutonium 239 is used in nukes. There are other isotopes that cannot be used at all in explosives, but have industrial uses.

The quoted statement is akin to saying that cow patties can be used to make a fertilizer bomb, like the one that almost collapsed the World Trade Center.


17 posted on 06/20/2007 7:27:33 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: PapaBear3625; 1035rep; 1curiousmind; 4woodenboats; 5Madman2; 68skylark; AdmSmith; airborne; ...

Dirty bomb requires much smaller amounts to pollute or contaminate, so even small amounts can be deadly in terrorist hands.

Also EMP (electro-magentic pulse bombs) I believe can use smaller amounts but would like to hear more from those who know.


18 posted on 06/20/2007 12:46:14 PM PDT by FARS (Good Thoughts (lead to ) Good Words (which combine into) Good Deeds)
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To: PapaBear3625

Plutonium is it? Well, my mine produces uranium, so it wasn’t my stuff. That beryllium is tough, too, although I don’t know that it is particularly thermonuclear.


19 posted on 06/20/2007 12:50:55 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: PapaBear3625
"It was the right decision as it would have been very expensive to keep it in Georgia and special conditions are needed," he said.

Um - that completely overlooks the "expense" of allowing them to bring it in at some other point and time under the "special conditions" of terrorists! Reminds me of Freddie Prinze character who said, "It's not my job, man!" Unbelievable!

20 posted on 06/20/2007 1:01:37 PM PDT by LucyJo
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To: DBrow
Interesting. Myself, I'd use the Pu238 for RTGs, and the Be for mirrorizing a slab of shaped glass for a new telescope.

Alas, no glass worth wasting the Be on, and only a small 1-1/2" peltier floating around in some box.

21 posted on 06/20/2007 1:26:38 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: FARS

wow


22 posted on 06/20/2007 1:26:59 PM PDT by RDTF (www.imwithfred.com)
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To: DBrow

That rings true. PuBe sources are used because together, those two can produce neutrons. Often they were used as Start-Up Sources for brand new reactor cores.

The article does not say how much, what isotopes or if they were stored together or not. Lots of missing info here.


23 posted on 06/20/2007 4:00:45 PM PDT by RoadGumby (Ask me about Ducky)
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To: MrEdd; 1stbn27; 2111USMC; 2nd Bn, 11th Mar; 68 grunt; A.A. Cunningham; ASOC; AirForceBrat23; ...

Ping.


24 posted on 06/20/2007 5:27:43 PM PDT by freema (Marine FRiend, 1stCuz2xRemoved, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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To: FARS; AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; KlueLass; ...

Thanks FARS. I’m sure there’s no Russian involvement. /snark


25 posted on 06/20/2007 8:42:34 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated June 20, 2007.)
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To: RDTF; Sax; AU72; Obie Wan; MrEdd; FARS; uptoolate; DBrow; nw_arizona_granny; Calvin Locke; ...
Update from a Georgia website:
Georgian Border Police said on Tuesday that it had detected radioactive emissions from scrap metal in a truck on the Georgian-Azerbaijani border on June 15.

Tbilisi-based Imedi TV reported on June 19 that the Georgian Border Police had detected nuclear materials – a mixture of plutonium and beryllium – in a truck coming from Azerbaijan. The truck was sent back to Azerbaijan.

The Border Police, however, stressed in a statement that only very small traces had been detected on the scrap metal during a routine customs check.

“The truck was carrying different types of scrap metal. It was driven by a Georgian citizen. He had all the necessary documents. Radiation emissions were detected on one of the metal pipes in the cargo. Pipes of this kind are usually used for wells,” the Border Police said.

It also said that it had informed relevant agencies within the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Environment, which then studied the case and jointly decided to send the truck with its cargo back to Azerbaijan.

“Our Azerbaijani colleagues have been informed,” the Border Police said.

So it wasn't a shipment of plutonium, but neither was it a legitimate device that happened to contain plutonium. Left unexplained is how well-pipe might have been contaminated with Pu. Perhaps somebody stashed some Pu down a well at some point? The lack of open interest by the authorities is interesting
26 posted on 06/21/2007 7:30:57 AM PDT by PapaBear3625
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To: PapaBear3625
Finding a neutron source in a well, or in well equipment, is not too surprising. AmBe is more common, but there are PuBe sources in use today.

Neutron sources are used for “well logging”, by irradiating the surrounding borehole rock or soil with neutrons then using a gamma spectrometer to determine the type of rock by its elemental composition (neutron activation analysis).

The backscatter of neutrons yields information about density and other factors.

The “piece of pipe” was most likely an old well logging device, with a PuBe source in it.

The lack of open interest is most likely due to the fact that well logging is a common technology and using a PuBe source for it is an accepted method. Combine that with a lack of a threat, and you get a ho-hum reaction.

The article does not say that the pipe was a well logging rig, so I’m not sure if there was a PuBe source, or if someone had broken open a PuBe source during a logging operation and there was residual contamination.

Isn’t it nice to know that there are radiation detectors in use at borders and that they trip on even small quantities of radioactive materials? The article could have been written as reassuring instead of alarming merely by shifting to the detectors, how they work, how sensitive they are, their spectral specificity*, and the clever border agents that found the PuBe.

*some early detectors would sound an alarm when scanning a load of bananas, since the K40 in bananas has a gamma peak quite close to that of special nuclear materials. It takes high spectral sensitivity to differentiate between bananas and a nuclear bomb.

27 posted on 06/21/2007 7:54:04 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: PapaBear3625

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18825225.800

An article talking about bombs and bananas.


28 posted on 06/21/2007 7:57:42 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: PapaBear3625
Radiation emissions were detected on one of the metal pipes in the cargo. Pipes of this kind are usually used for wells
...in the gulag, maybe. Thanks PapaBear.
29 posted on 06/21/2007 8:14:07 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated June 20, 2007.)
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To: PapaBear3625

Either Laurel and Hardey are in charge of Border Security in Georgia, or they’ve been consulting with President Bush and Tony Snowman.

This reminds me of Snowman’s interview with Hannity earlier this week:

Hannity: “...but Tony, they had plutonium and berylium! Why didn’t you confiscate it!”

Snowman: “Look Sean, I love you, but you just can’t go around confiscating nuclear material at the border. The previous border security law had no such provisions. And anyways, the Border Patrol folks did not have the proper forms. But we got some really cool photos from the Global Hawk we now have patroling that sector.”


30 posted on 06/21/2007 8:23:52 AM PDT by PsyOp (Truth in itself is rarely sufficient to make men act. - Clauswitz, On War, 1832.)
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To: DBrow

thanks for the explanation


31 posted on 06/21/2007 8:44:25 AM PDT by PapaBear3625
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To: PapaBear3625

Thanks for the update and ping.


32 posted on 06/21/2007 12:36:26 PM PDT by nw_arizona_granny (When God spoke to the world, were you listening?)
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To: FARS

Thank you for the ping FARS!


33 posted on 06/21/2007 4:15:14 PM PDT by potlatch (MIZARU_ooo_()_ooo_MIKAZARU_ooo_()_ooo_MAZARU_ooo_()_ooo_))
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