4 held in Namibia for nuke material theft
Windhoek - Namibian authorities have arrested four people they suspect of stealing drums of radioactive material from a mine in the country that is a major exporter of uranium, officials said on Monday.
The four were arrested on Friday in the coastal town of Swakopmund, the drums have been recovered and the material is thought to have come from Areva's Trekkopje mine, they said.
Axel Tibinyane, regulator of the Atomic Energy Board of Namibia, said the contents of the drums are radioactive.
"The next step is to confirm that the material is indeed uranium oxide, but physical observation points in that direction. This will also allow us to fingerprint the origin of the material," Tibinyane told Reuters.
The spokesperson in Namibia for the French nuclear firm Areva, Sugnét Smit, told Reuters: "The situation is very sensitive.
"Tests have been conducted to see if it concerns yellow cake or not. The results will be released on Thursday."
Areva's Trekkopje is one of the few mines in Namibia that has processing facilities for yellow cake - a form of uranium ore that can be enriched for nuclear fuel or, if enriched to a much higher level, for use in weapons.
The four suspects were expected to appear in court later on Monday.