Russian Customs Seizes Tehran-Bound Radioactive Metal

Russian customs has seized a shipment of Sodium-22 being carried in the luggage of an Iranian passenger bound for Tehran:

The Federal Customs Service said in a statement that its agents found 18 pieces of metal at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after a radiation alert went on. It says the gauges showed that radiation levels were 20 times higher than normal.

It was not immediately clear if the substance could have any use in Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Sodium-22 emits positrons and has a long half-life. For that reason it’s used for point sources in PET (positron emission tomography) scanners. I know of no military applications for it or any way in which it might be useful in Iran’s nuclear development program.

I think there are a couple of ways to read this story. First and foremost, I think it illustrates the impact that trade restrictions are having on Iran. The difficulty of getting certain materials into Iran probably makes this sort of smuggling worthwhile. Second, I find it somewhat reassuring that the Russian authorities are paying attention to this stuff.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    My first reaction was that the Russian authorities are just trying to make it look like they’re doing something . And, in fact, trying to make it look like they’re doing something against Iran’s nuclear program. But in reality, they did nothing at all.

  2. Franklin says:

    I think it illustrates the impact that trade restrictions are having on Iran. The difficulty of getting certain materials into Iran probably makes this sort of smuggling worthwhile.

    Just to be clear, though, I definitely agree with this.