An example of a billet of highly enriched uranium.
Are you in the market for some highly enriched uranium? If so, then look no further than the exquisite black markets of Georgia, where evidence in a secret trial has shed light on smuggled uranium that is allegedly for sale in the former Soviet satellite state. —JCL
At the centre of the case are two Armenians, a businessman called Sumbat Tonoyan and a physicist, Hrant Ohanyan. Both have pleaded guilty to smuggling highly enriched uranium (HEU) into Georgia in March, stashing it in a lead-lined package on a train from Yerevan to Tbilisi.
Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, informed other heads of state of the sting operation at a nuclear summit in Washington in April, but no details about the case have been made public until now. The trial has been conducted behind closed doors, Georgian officials say, to protect the operational secrecy of the country’s counter-proliferation unit.