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Russia, US remove unguarded elements for dirty bomb from Antarctica

November 18, 2015, 12:58 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG
Unguarded radioactive sources that may be used by international terrorism have been removed within the framework of the joint Russian-American program
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Russian Antarctic polar research station

Russian Antarctic polar research station

© ITAR-TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, November 18. /TASS/. Russia and the United States have removed from Antarctica the "dirty bomb" components — radioactive elements from autonomously operating equipment. They are not protected and could get into the hands of terrorists, head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition (RAE), Deputy Director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Valery Lukin told TASS on Wednesday.

"Four radioisotope thermoelectric generators and four sources of ionizing radiation, which were used in different equipment, have been removed from Antarctica within the framework of the joint Russian-American program," he said. "These radioactive sources may be used by international terrorism for making a dirty bomb," Lukin said, adding that "such attempts [at seizing unprotected radioactive devices] have been made, but not in Antarctica."

The main danger of the devices removed from Antarctica was that they were kept at autonomous research facilities without security protection, and so it was rather easy to get to them — under the guise of tourism, non-governmental activities, the establishment of a record. "Under these pretexts terrorist organizations could get to Antarctica and illegally remove these sources," Lukin said. This work was carried out in 2014-2015 — amid the serious deterioration of the international situation, but it did not affect in any way the implementation of the project.

The equipment, which could form the basis for a dirty bomb was delivered to Antarctica in the 1960-1970s of the last century. Four radioisotope thermoelectric generators were used at the Soviet seasonal field bases in Antarctica as sources of electric power for meteorological and magnetic variation stations.

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