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Missiles with Dirty Bomb Warheads are Missing

Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
December 12, 2003

Experts say that dozens of rockets equipped with so-called dirty bombs- warheads designed to scatter deadly radioactive material- appear to be missing in Trana-Dnieswter, a breakaway region of Moldova. Moldova is a former Soviet republic, which broke away after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Political analyst, Oazu Natoi, who works at the non-governmental Institute for Policy Studies in Chisinau,said he had seen copies of Russian military documents showing that the dirty bomb warheads were missing from a storage depot near the Trans-Dniester Tiraspol military airport.

Nantoi is a respected expert on the region of Trans-Dniester, which is populated by ethnic Slavs and has been policed by thousands of Russian troops since the region's fight for independence from Moldove 12 years ago.

Nanatoi said the documents came from a disgruntled Russian military official who claimed he had not received compensation for being exposed to radioactive material.

The possibility of terrorists acquiring dirty bombs is a main concern of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.

IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei said last week that his agency, which tires to cap the spread of nuclear weapons, is not spending a great deal of time working on this threat."

The organization for security and cooperation in Europe and other agencies have expressed repeated concern about reports that the Trans Dniester region is a major weapons smuggling center.

Thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition remain stored in Trans-Dniester after the breakup. The region has a robust arms industry.