Uranium seized in SA, likely from abroad

2013-11-25 22:14
<a href=www.shutterstock.com>Shutterstock</a>


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - A kilogramme of uranium seized in South Africa as it was allegedly being sold, likely originated from a nuclear enrichment plant outside Africa, the country's nuclear energy agency said on Monday.

The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA), which tested the material, confirmed that the substance was unenriched uranium, adding that it likely came from somewhere where enrichment is taking place.

"Yes, it is uranium, and the tests suggest that it must have come from a country that is dealing with some uranium enrichment at the moment, very, very unlikely [in] Africa," NECSA spokesperson Elliot Mulane told AFP.

Mulane said at this stage there was no firm indication of where the uranium could have come from, simply suggesting investigations will now move "across international borders".

China, Iran, Japan, North Korea and the United States are among more than a dozen countries involved in uranium enrichment.

Two men in their early 20s were arrested in possession of the 1kg of uranium while allegedly trying to sell it in Durban on 14 November, officials said.

Dirty bombs

The seizure, which also included 90 ecstasy tablets, has heightened fears over the illicit trade in enriched materials that could be used in dirty bombs.

International atomic bodies have been informed of the matter.

According to test results seen by AFP the uranium is 0.38% made up of the U-235 isotope, which is split in a fission reaction.

That level is well below the average 0.7% U-235 found in natural uranium and the 90% level needed to be considered weapons grade.

Mulane said the level of uranium found in the sample is harmless and similar to that found in material used to build hulls of ships and in the construction of aircraft.

Uranium trafficking is rare.

South Africa has the continent's only nuclear power plant, but several countries have significant uranium deposits and mining activities.

The arrested suspects appeared in court last week and were remanded in custody until 3 December for a bail application.

Read more on:    durban

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.