A year ago from a car rented by employees of the U.S. Department of energy, stole an unknown amount of weapons-grade plutonium, a vital ingredient for the production of nuclear warheads. It has become known only today, reports Motherboard. Weapons-grade plutonium is plutonium in the form of a compact metal, containing not less than 94% of the isotope 239Pu. Intended to create nuclear weapons.
21 March 2017, two security expert at the National laboratory of Idaho state at the Ministry of energy went to San Antonio, Tekas, to extract radioactive materials from non-profit research laboratory. Mission to restore were part of a National program to restore the resources of the Agency for nuclear security, which aims to identify small samples of radioactive materials, which were distributed to various public and private research entities to the end of the 90-ies. Radioactive material is harder to track when he is in a hundred different places, so the recovery program reduces the risk of ingress of material into the wrong hands due to the consolidation of its national laboratories.
Weapons-grade plutonium stolen from a car
Government and Federal law enforcement agencies has never publicly announced the theft to San Antonio, so it became known about it only on Monday in the investigative report of the Center for public integrity.
Employees of the U.S. Department of energy captured radiation detectors, samples of plutonium and cesium, a radioactive isotope generated by nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium. Cesium is not used to produce nuclear weapons, but the Initiative on the nuclear threat calls it “the most dangerous of all radioactive isotopes” and argues that it can be used to create dirty bombs. Employees are the samples radioactive metals for the calibration of radiation detectors.
Upon arrival in San Antonio, the staff stayed at the hotel Marriott “in an area with high levels of crime, which is full of shelters and ranches”. Instead of having to take radioactive material and instrumentation in the hotel, they decided to leave them for the night in the back seat of the rented Ford Expedition. Waking up in the morning, they found that the car glass broken, and a nuclear stuffing disappeared.
A year later, the radioactive material was never found. No suspects and clues.
In General, radioactive specimens lose often enough. In a report published last year by the International Agency for nuclear energy, it was found that over the last twenty years, people have acquired nuclear material “for trade or malicious use” 270 times.
Of course, the most radioactive material goes missing in the United States and Russia. In 2009, the audit of the U.S. Department of energy has revealed that a third of the laboratories “is inaccurate based on the number and location of specific nuclear materials.” In fact, the Ministry of energy could be short of about 15 kilograms of enriched uranium, 45 grams of plutonium.
When the civil nuclear material (sort of a gram of plutonium, lost researchers of the University of Idaho this year) is lost, this shall be reported to the public by the nuclear regulatory Commission. The Ministry of energy, on the other hand, oversees the military’s nuclear materials and, as a rule, is in no hurry to inform the public about losses.
Neither San Antonio nor national laboratory Idaho will not reveal the number of missing plutonium and cesium to the Center for public integrity, but the representative of the laboratory said that plutonium to build nuclear bombs is not enough — you need about 3 kilograms. However, a few grams of radioactive material is enough to make a dirty bomb, so the U.S. government did recover radioactive samples priority national security.