Moldovan police arrest 7 suspected of uranium smuggling to make 'dirty bomb'

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Moldovan police say they have detained seven people on suspicion they smuggled uranium and mercury from Russia to be used in a dirty bomb.

Police chief Ion Bodrug said house searches were carried out last week in the capital and two other towns and police confiscated 200 grams (7 ounces) of uranium-238 mixed with uranium-235 and a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of mercury. The material, smuggled by train, has a black-market value of 1.6 million euros ($2 million).

Those arrested belong to a criminal gang and have admitted their guilt, Bodrug said Tuesday.

Police are cooperating with Ukrainian and Russian police to identify other gang members.

Uranium-238 can be enriched into the fissile material of nuclear warheads or converted into plutonium, also used to arm nuclear missiles.