Dec 13 2006

$25 Million Worth Of Polonium-210

Another source is confirming the value of the Polonium-210 that killed Litvinenko was in the tens of millions:

German investigators say the radioactive polonium-210 used to kill a former Russian spy in London last month would have cost $25 million on the black market.

The Berliner Zeitung quoted a police source Wednesday as saying police were investigating the possibility some of Alexander Litvinenko’s business activities involved the illegal smuggling of nuclear materials.

“We know that there has been a demand for nuclear materials in terrorist circles for several years,” the source said.

That is a good number to employ a large smuggling ring – and please don’t post it is free to a government because it is not. You have to bribe people to get that much Polonium 210 out of a government and internationally monitored process. Nothing is free in life and no one just lets $25 million worth of material pass by them.

27 responses so far

27 Responses to “$25 Million Worth Of Polonium-210”

  1. clarice says:

    ENlightened, that fact was in the first reports on the case by the Times.

  2. Lizarde1 says:

    Well here’s what the nuclear times said today – suggesting that they do not know where it came from:
    While speculation over the death of the former intelligence agent focuses on his vocal criticism of the Kremlin regime, identifying a chemical link between the polonium and its source within a reactor remains the most compelling and, so far intractable, evidence sought by the authorities.

  3. jerry says:

    merlinOS2, at least one reference is Edward Jay Epstein:

  4. mariposa says:

    Lizarde, that report is interesting, but they can’t even get something as easy as Litvinenko’s first name right, so it kind of makes me wonder how much else is wrong.

  5. wiley says:

    That was an excellent article on Russia & how it’s corrupt to the core. Made me think of what my brother-in-law & wife went thru when they adopted a boy from Russaion orphanage 7-8 years ago. Very intimidating experience … handlers at every step, procedures take U-turns, appointments re-scheduled, hearings meld into more hearings, and the judges are as corrupt as the handlers — all expecting payoffs.
    Anyone get the WaPo? For the last few weeks there has been a russian advertising supplement (6 pages today) touting all the great developments and business trends … every Wed.

  6. MerlinOS2 says:


    As I have said much earlier in this thread. It takes a reactor to breed the isotope. Few reactors are designed to do that. Especially for short lived isotopes. Most don’t have incorporated into their design intentional sample insertion points into the radiation flux availability points. It’s something you have to design in as a reason.

    There are so few and they are well known in the nuclear community.

    In any event the given core configuration and design dynamics until when the core characteristics are finalized can be back calculated to determine within good confidence levels to the neutron flux density of the particular reactor at design power levels.

    This capability will tell you by deduction the potential irradiation rate and efficiency factors for isotope creation.

    So even if you were looking to only in the whole world create only PO 210 you would try to profile your reactor design to optomize this process.

    Still on the way to that adventure you have a fixed design which once it is there gives you a purity and isotope conversion efficiency curve that is specific to the characteristics of the base design.

    The better the design the purer the result.

    Even taking a blind sample you can look at the decay curve and back calculate the neutron profile required to produce the sample you have in hand.

    After that its only a simple possible source parameter match or a non match which is a big hint at new proliferation.

  7. MerlinOS2 says:

    You have to be aware enough of isotope availability to get a handle on the reason and methodology.

    Our bombs in WWII used PO 210 as a portion of the triggers.

    The go to guys figured out this was the way at the time to do the deed, but then they had to figure out how to make the trigger in a reasonable manner.

    This was the reason Germany was onto the bomb concept but never put the pieces together to figure out how to do the trigger deal.

    To mine and refine out of natural earth enough PO 210 with all the issues related to that for one crude weapon you would have to basically strip mine Texas to the depth of 25 feet.

    The key to our nuclear success was figuring out the alternative.

    That was the reason we built a reactor under the bleachers at the University of Chicago to do the isotope conversion rather than the mining extraction alternative.

    Even highly enriched uranium is not self actuating you need a neutron source trigger.

    Current state of the art is a whole different ball game.