Russia airlifts enriched uranium out of Germany

Other News Materials 18 December 2006 13:26 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) - Russian experts removed a large quantity of highly enriched uranium from a Soviet-era atomic reactor in eastern Germany on Monday and were flying it to Russia for processing, officials said.

Some 326 kg (717 lb) of enriched uranium was flown out of Germany and was heading toward a processing center in Podolsk, Russia, said Udo Herwig, director of the Rossendorf research center where the material was stored and prepared for transport.

German police provided security for the transport from the forested Rossendorf research center to Dresden airport, police spokesman Thomas Herbst said. He added the operation involved up to 500 police and more undercover officers, reports Trend.

A convoy of around 40 police vehicles escorted the silver armored truck on its 10-km (6-mile) journey to the airport, where the nuclear cargo was loaded onto an Ilyushin 76 Russian cargo plane.

Security officials had dispatched a second decoy convoy.

The convoy carrying the uranium was briefly held up by a group of 20 to 30 anti-nuclear protesters along the way, forcing the vehicles to stop temporarily before changing routes and proceeding to the airport, officials said.

Roughly two thirds of the uranium is highly enriched, though it is unclear how pure the uranium fuel is. If enriched to a sufficient level of purity, there could be enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for several atomic bombs.

The other third is low enriched uranium, the officials said.