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Search for Lost Dirty Bomb Material

The United Nations is searching the former Soviet Republic of Georgia for radioactive equipment they know was abandoned there after the break-up of the Soviet Union. This material could be sold on the Russian black market to terrorists and used to build a dirty bomb.

Radiation experts from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are searching for two Strontium 90 generators. Six Strontium 90 generators have been recovered from Georgia since 1998, but 2 are still missing. In February, 2002, two woodsmen stumbled across 2 of them, which had been discarded in a forest. The men are still being treated for radiation sickness and burns in France and Russia. An IAEA spokeswoman says, "Strontium 90 is probably one of the most potent radioactive sources.?

In recent years, the IAEA has also conducted expeditions to recover radioactive materials from Uganda and Afghanistan. Many defense experts believe it will be easier for terrorists to get radioactive materials inside U.S., than to smuggle them into the country. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that 200 radiation sources that are used for medical and industrial purposes get ?lost? in the U.S. every year. In contrast, the radioactive material in the Georgian generators is incorporated into solid ceramic structures, making it hard for it to be extracted and used to make bombs.

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