Russia Catches Iranian With Radioactive Metal
He was trying to board a plane to Tehran
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2011 1:02 PM CST
Passengers walk under departure boards showing flights to some European countries delayed or cancelled at a departure terminal in Sheremetyevo airport, near Moscow in 2010.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

(Newser) – Russian custom agents have seized 18 pieces of radioactive metal from an Iranian man who was trying to board a flight to Tehran, the customs agency announced today. The incident occurred sometime in the past—the agency didn't specify when—at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. The man's luggage triggered the airport radiation alarm, registering at 20 times above normal levels. The luggage was seized, but the Iranian was not detained.

Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear energy corporation, has provided Iran radioactive isotopes in the past, but a spokesman tells the AP there's only an "extremely slim chance" the material came from there. The metal contained Sodium-22, a positron-emitting isotope made by particle accelerators, not nuclear reactors, he explained, adding that some universities, research institutes, and medical centers have the technology to produce it.