A spokesman for the Hungarian Customs and Finance Guard, Attila Kiss, said after months of preparations, Hungarian and Slovak security forces detained three suspects on charges of trying to sell enriched uranium for at least one million dollars.
"Police discovered half-a-kilogram of enriched uranium in powder form," he said. "The material was apparently smuggled from Russia, via Ukraine, to Slovakia."
He said the material could have been used to make a dirty bomb, a weapon which would use explosives to scatter radioactive debris. "Police detained one Hungarian citizen in Hungary and another Hungarian and a Ukrainian across the border in Slovakia," Kiss added .
New member countries of the European Union, such as Hungary and Slovakia, have come under pressure to step up security around their frontiers with non-EU member states.
Both countries are soon to join the Schengen Agreement, which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls within the participating nations of the EU.
Kiss told BosNewsLife that his agency has increased efforts to detect enriched uranium. “The situation is dangerous for Hungary, which already is coping with an increase in illegal migration and smuggling. We have special equipment to detect radio active material in trucks.”
But he admitted it was an uphill battle. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the illicit trafficking in radioactive materials has said that last year, it registered over 250 reported cases of radioactive materials that were stolen, missing, smuggled or in the possession of unauthorized individuals. That was an increase of nearly 400 percent since 2002.
Smuggled materials generally come out of Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, as security at nuclear-related industries has deteriorated since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, according to nuclear experts. (BosNewsLife Anti-Terror Task Force: Watching the Threats of Our Time. Part of this BosNewsLife News story also airs on the Voice of America (VOA) network. www.voanews.com).