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Theft impossible from Russian nuclear enterprises - official

Moscow, 8 December: Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry on Saturday [8 December] excluded the possibility of theft from Russian enterprises of any nuclear material that could be used in making weapons.

"A guaranteed multistep system has been created in Russia to control and register nuclear materials that can be used for military purposes," Deputy Minister Bulat Nigmatulin told Interfax in comments on media reports that a group has been arrested in Moscow Region for a suspected attempt to sell about 1kg of weapons-grade uranium.

"In the entire history of the Russian nuclear power industry, there have been no facts of uncontrolled movement or theft of weapons-grade uranium [90 per cent enriched]."

The group the media reports referred to was trying to sell "uranium tablets 2.44 per cent enriched and 6 mm in size of the kind used in heat-releasing elements of power reactors at nuclear power plants. Those tablets can have nothing to do with weapons-grade uranium even theoretically," Nigmatulin said.

He said it is permitted to export from Russia uranium with a maximum enrichment degree of 5 per cent.

He said that in Russia 5-per-cent-enriched uranium was used at nuclear power plants, uranium with enrichment degrees of 15 per cent to 20 per cent in fast neutron reactors and uranium with an enrichment degree of up to 60 per cent in research reactors.

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