Saturday, December 13, 2008

Supposed Uranium Smugglers Arrested in Kenya

Kenya's Nation newspaper is reporting that two men were arrested for smuggling uranium into the country from DR Congo. One of the two men had an ID indicating he was a Ugandan soldier. The article takes pains to say that it has not been established yet that the material the men were trying to sell is in fact uranium.

On the one hand, it's probably a scam. On the other, Shinkolobwe, the uranium mine in Katanga, is apparently an unguarded open pit, surrounded by peasant farms. Supposedly any accessible uranium is useless for production of an atomic weapon, but as part of a "dirty bomb" the material could be effectively frightening.

Various stories have circulated over the years regarding Congo's uranium. At one point, it was said that the Italian mafia had attempted to buy radioactive material stolen from Kinshasa's nuclear research reactor. That Kinshasa has a nuclear research reactor is astonishing in itself.

See here for a report on conditions at the reactor. See here and here for details on the mafia's smuggling ring.

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