Uranium black market is rampant in the Soviet republic of Moldova, an investigative report by The Associated Press has found. Uranium smuggler rings in the region attempted in four different occasions to sell the material to ISIS or other Islamic extremists. At one foiled operation a smuggler attempted to sell uranium for nuclear bombs to a real buyer from the Middle East. At another foiled operation a smuggler tried to sell uranium that comes with a free sample of plutonium. One smuggler revealed that he is intentionally targeting an Islamic buyer “because they will bomb the Americans.”
“We can expect more of these cases,” Constantin Malic, a Moldovan investigator told AP. “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it,” he added. AP was declined comment by the FBI while the White House and the State Department refused to give specifics of the cases.
However, anonymous sources have confirmed to CNN that the FBI had been helping the Moldovan authorities in thwarting the radioactive material smuggling rings in the region. U.S. is still concerned that these materials used to make nuclear materials end in the hands of the ISIS, the source told CNN.
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff told CNN that officials have been long concerned about nuclear material being smuggled in Moldova. “We know that these radical Islamic groups like al Qaeda and ISIS would love to get their hands on radioactive materials to fashion some sort of bomb. We’ve had a number of scenarios since the collapse of the Soviet Union where there have been sales or purported sales. This is a concern with us very much today and unfortunately into the future,” Schiff said.
The government remained mum on the issue. “I can’t speak to a specific operation or investigation going on, but it is an issue that we routinely talk to Russian authorities about, and as I said, I think we believe is a shared concern between our two governments,” State Department spokesman, John Kirby, told AP.