AUTHORSheets, Lawrence S.
TITLEA Smuggler's Story
PERIODICAL TITLEAtlantic Monthly
DATE PUBLISHED2008
VOLUME NUMBER
ISSUE NUMBERApril
PAGE NUMBERS60-70
ISSN0160-6506


By examining the cases of three amateur smugglers who were caught with highly enriched uranium (HEU) and yellowcake (unenriched uranium ore), this article provides insight into the fate of nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. In 2003, Garik Dafayan was apprehended on the Georgian border with 200 grams of HEU; in 2006, Oleg Khintsagov was arrested in Tbilisi, Georgia, as he attempted to sell 100 grams of HEU to Georgian security agents; in August 2006, Tamaz Dimitradze was arrested with a kilogram of yellowcake at the Georgian border with Abkhazia. The authorities were not able to determine the sources of the smuggled materials in any of the three cases. Poor economic conditions, lack of cooperation among the authorities in Russia and Georgia, and the availability of unsecured nuclear materials are discussed in detail. Based on information about the failed smuggling incidents, the author implies the likely success of professional smugglers interested in accumulating enough HEU for a nuclear weapon.


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