I’m sure most of you have read or heard by now about the “15 kilos” of Uranium seized by Turkish authorities. It’s turned out to be only 100 grams. I delayed writing about this due to my skepticism about the quantity. A quantity of enriched Uranium (ie high in U235) that “close” to critical mass in that small a container would be, shall we say, a bit on the warm side? …in both senses! There are ways around this if it is all pelletized (as from power plant fuel rods) and packed in neutron absorbing materials. Those, along with the lead shielding, would drive the weight up. The taxi would have been down on it’s axles!
So there were only 100g of possibly enriched Uranium and it was caught. That’s the good news. But there is a dark lining to this “silver cloud”. According to Ha’aratz:
Smugglers use Turkey’s porous eastern border to import drugs, and hundreds of thousands of migrants each year illegally cross the rugged frontier on their way to more affluent European Union nations.
Police in Istanbul seized more than one kg of weapons-grade uranium last November that had been smuggled into Turkey from an east European state. The smugglers were detained after attempting to sell the material to undercover police officers.
Note what Ha’aretz leaves you to infer for yourself. We all know how successful attempts to stop drug smuggling have been. About all you can do with drug seizure data is infer an order of magnitude more was not caught. Given the value of fissionable material and the actual quantities seized in Turkey alone in the last year…
Folks, we have a problem.