IS may obtain Armenia’s radioactive materials
Yerevan’s statements and nuclear threats against Azerbaijan evoked the broad socio-political and international reaction in the world.
The Western media, namely, Washington Times, Reuters, The Huffington Post and The Jerusalem Post, publish a lot of statements on the Armenian citizens’ attempts to smuggle and sell nuclear materials in Georgia.
After the defeat on the line of contact in April, Yerevan’s high-ranking officials began to threaten Azerbaijan with a “dirty bomb”.
Hrant Bagratyan, Armenian former prime minister, who served as minister of defense in 1993, Lieutenant General Norat Ter-Grigoryants, chairman of Dashnaktsutiun faction, MPs and other officials stated that Armenia’s arsenal includes such a bomb.
First, the talks resembled Hitler’s story about Germany’s “Wonder Weapon”. But later these talks became more detailed taking into account the Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia.
The nuclear power plant enables the Armenian leadership to legally acquire radioactive elements abroad, which can later be used to create a “dirty bomb”, as well as to get profit and sell it on the black market. Armenian citizens, selling the radioactive materials worldwide, are the main characters of shady transactions on the black market.
1999, May 22 – Berehovo town, Ukraine: Two Armenians trying to sell 20 kg of Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) U-235 ore and a buyer were arrested by Ukrainian law enforcement officials in the town of Berehovo – The Armenians demanded $35,000 per kg for the Uranium. They received heavy radiation doses because they had handled the material with their bare hands and carried it in rubber bags. According to one source, the material was enriched Uranium in white powder form stolen from a radioactive-materials recycling facility in Krasnoyarsk. Other sources said it was LEU metal suitable for making fuel for RBMK reactors.
2001, December 19 – Samtskhe-Javakheti region, Georgia: 300 g of LEU were intercepted in an intelligence operation. The origin of the material was Armenia.
2003, June 26 – Armenia-Georgia border (Sadakhlo-Bagratashen checkpoint): Smuggling case 170 grams of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) U-235 (~90%). Detected by the Georgian border guards. An Armenian “war hero” named Garik Dadayan was busted when he walked through a nuclear sensor on the Georgia-Armenia border with 170 grams of unsheathed HEU in a tea box in two batches: 70 grams and 100 grams; and in two different forms: UO2 and U3O8. Reportedly, HEU was obtained from the Novosibirsk nuclear fuel fabrication facility, Russia. HEU sample was provided to Russia; remaining HEU was transferred to the USA. Dadayan was handed over to the Armenian government, tried, and sentenced in 2004 just to 2,5 years in prison.
2003, December 29 – Megri checkpoint on the Armenian-Iranian border, Armenia: Armenian customs officials discovered a radiation source in a scrap metal shipment bound for Iran. It was reported that scrap metal was outbound from the Armenian Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Radioactive object discovered at the Armenian-Iranian border was an empty casing from a radioactive source, which previously contained strontium-90 (The presence of the casing for a radioactive source without the radioactive source itself would appear to imply that the source now rests at an unknown location without the protective barriers necessary to avoid injury to the public). Spectral analysis showed that the object has a high radioactivity level.
2004, March 13 – Armenia-Georgia border (Sadakhlo-Bagratashen checkpoint): Armenian citizen with radioactive material detained. The report did not identify the radioactive material.
2007, October 24 – Georgia-Turkey border (Sarpi checkpoint): Georgian police officers and operatives from the Special Operations Center of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia for the Autonomous Republic of Adjara arrested 4 Armenian citizen for attempting to smuggle 2.04g of Lawrencium-103 in a specifically designed gold container.
2009 August 26-28 – Armenia-Georgia border (Sadakhlo-Bagratashen checkpoint): The vehicle belonged to a resident of Noratus village of Gegharkunik region, Armenia, carrying three Armenian citizens entered Georgia from Armenia at the Sadakhlo border crossing. The car set off a gamma alarm on the radiation detection portal monitor. The driver provided a cursory explanation for the alarm, and the patrol police did not detain the group. On August 27, the same car returned to Armenia through the Sadakhlo crossing, and again set off a gamma alarm. At this point, the patrol police stopped and searched the vehicle. Georgian officials determined that the car was contaminated with Cesium-137. However, because the search did not produce any radioactive material, the occupants were released and returned to Armenia.
2010 March – Tbilisi, Georgia: Two Armenian, Businessman Smbat Tonoyan and Physicist of the Yerevan Institute of Physics Hrant Ohanyan were arrested by Georgian authorities in the hotel room, with 18 grams of 89% HEU brought from Armenia into Georgian territory. Two had concealed the material in a lead lined Marlboro cigarette package before boarding a train from Yerevan to Tbilisi. During the trial in Tbilisi, it was revealed that Tonoyan had demanded $8 million from a prospective buyer for 120 grams of the enriched uranium, but later dropped the asking price to $1.5 million. 18 grams would be shown to the buyer as a sample of the product in their possession. Smbat Tonoyan’s son Samvel Tonoyan, was a member of the Special Investigative Service of the Republic of Armenia. Interestingly, the seized HEU was provided to the smugglers by the same Armenian national, Garik Dadayan who was arrested in possession of the first sample of HEU intercepted in Georgia in 2003. Having served a relatively light prison sentence of 2.5 years, he resurfaced again in 2010 as a supplier of the same material.
2010, September 16 – Tbilisi Airport, Georgia: Three persons were arrested at Tbilisi airport for attempting to sell a small quantity of mixed powder containing about 0.0004 kg of Plutonium (Pu) and 0.00008 kg of LEU. The individuals said they had brought the Uranium and Pu from the Russian Federation and Ukraine to sell it. One member of the group was from Armenia.
2014 August – Armenia-Georgia border (Sadakhlo-Bagratashen checkpoint): Georgian authorities arrested two Armenians trying to smuggle Cesium 137 into Georgia.
2016 January – Armenia-Georgia border (Sadakhlo-Bagratashen checkpoint): Georgian authorities arrested three Armenians, also for trying to sneak Cesium 137 across the border.
2016 mid-April – Georgia’s State Security Service detained three citizens of Armenia and three citizens of Georgia with trying to sell $200 million worth of Uranium-238 that was found in the home of one of the Georgians. The prefabricated transportation containers full of uranium were found in one of the detainee’s apartment, he further said without disclosing the precise amount of the radioactive material. It is also known that the group of 3 Armenian citizens, previously worked in Metsamor NPP. One of the detainees was identified as a former associate of the Armenian secret service. This group planned to sell Uranium-238 to the Middle East region.
The observers stress that Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s brother Sashik Sargsyan is engaged in this business in the country. Sashik Sargsyan is one of the main figures of criminal Armenia. It is impossible to carry radioactive substances via Armenian checkpoints to Georgia without Sashik Sargsyan’s consent.
All this gives grounds to think that Yerevan has great nuclear ambitions and the international community’s sanctions can stop recklessness of “Karabakh clan”.
The sanctions are the problem concerning not only the US, waging the war against Iran’s nuclear program for over ten years, and starting the war in Iraq by showing a tube of isotopes to the world, but also the CSTO countries, whose notorious ally carries out its dangerous games under this organization’s cover.
The statements about Armenia’s nuclear weapons, resembling the story about Hitler’s “Wonder Weapon”, show that Yerevan’s current leadership is hazardous. Its actions require sanctions by the world powers to prevent further escalation of nuclear terrorism in the world. Today Armenia not only threatens Azerbaijan with nuclear weapons, but also turns into a major source of international terrorism.
Without troubling themselves, the IS or al-Qaeda terrorists can just establish relations with Armenia to get nuclear and radioactive materials and commit further terrorist acts on a global scale. The story about white phosphorus munitions, prohibited by the international conventions and found in the frontline village of the Azerbaijani Tartar district, also testifies to it.
Elkhan Alasgarov, PhD, head of the Baku Network’s expert council