Georgia nabs three men in effort to sell radioactive cesium-137


Georgia’s security agency said Monday it has arrested three men suspected of peddling radioactive cesium, the latest in a series of operations against nuclear smugglers in the ex-Soviet nation.

The agency said Monday that the men were arrested in the capital, Tbilisi, while trying to sell an unspecified amount of cesium-137 for $100,000. It didn’t say when the arrest was made or give any other details.

Cesium-137, a byproduct of nuclear reactors, is used for various medical and industrial purposes.

Georgia and some other ex-Soviet nations have seen numerous attempts at contraband trade in radioactive substances. There have been fears that if such materials fall in the hands of extremists, they could be used in a “dirty bomb,” a device intended to contaminate large areas using conventional explosives.

Georgia has relied on assistance from the U.S. to combat nuclear smuggling. Georgian law enforcement agencies have arrested dozens of suspected traders in radioactive substances over the past several years.