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Nuclear materials to Tehran discovered in luggage at Moscow airport

By Stefan Korshak

MOSCOW — Inspectors at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport found 18 cylinders of radioactive Sodium-22 in luggage bound for Iran on Thursday and were searching for the shipment’s owners.

The bag exceeded safe radiation levels by more than 20 times and set off alarms, the Interfax news agency reported. The material had been packed in separate steel cylinders.

Sodium-22 is used in medical applications. The material is produced in a cyclotron by artificial particle acceleration, and does not occur in nature.

Cyclotrons are normally used for physics research.

Russia has assisted Iran with the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station, and also provides the country isotopes of molybdenum-99 and iodine-131 for medical purposes and research.

Russia says it opposes Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear weapon — a goal Tehran has said it is not interested in.

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