Ex-KGB spy Litvinenko was working for MI6 when he died

January 30, 2012 by Joseph Fitsanakis

clip_image001Confidential documents leaked to the British press show that a leading medical examiner wants to reinspect the 2006 death of a former Soviet intelligence officer, in light of new revelations. Alexander Litvinenko was an employee of the Soviet KGB and its successor organization, the FSB, who in 2000 defected with his family to the United Kingdom. He soon became known as an increasingly vocal critic of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Litvinenko came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting a former colleague, Andrey Lugovoy, in a London restaurant. The latter is believed by British authorities to have assassinated Litvinenko “with the backing of the Russian state”. Although much of the case remains shrouded in mystery, an important new clue was added to the equation in October, when Litvinenko’s widow publicly admitted that her husband had been a paid employee of British intelligence services MI5 and MI6. Marina Litvinenko told British tabloid newspaper The Mail on Sunday that Alexander had advised both agencies on “combat[ing] Russian organized crime in Europe”.

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Radioactive Material Stolen in Egypt

KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

A radioactive warning symbol

Summary

Calibration devices that may contain radioactive material were reportedly stolen from a contentious nuclear power plant that is under construction Jan. 18 in Dabaa, Egypt. Due to the small amounts of radioactive material that would be in each device, the threat of malicious exposure to radiation is very low, though accidental exposure is a possibility. In fact, given the public discontent over the power plant, it is likely that the thieves do not know what the devices are and only took them as part of a larger theft intended to delay the plant’s construction.

Analysis

Egyptian state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Jan. 19 reported the theft a day earlier of calibration devices that may contain radioactive material from a controversial nuclear power plant under construction in Dabaa, Egypt. The identities of the thieves are unknown, but it is possible that they are local Bedouins, who have been vandalizing and violently protesting against the plant, which is being built on land taken from them without compensation.

If the stolen devices do contain radioactive material, that material could be extremely dangerous, but it is unlikely that the thieves even know what they possess. The radioactive devices were likely just part of a larger theft intended to delay the plant’s construction. For this reason and others, the threat of malicious radiation exposure is very low. Instead, the greater risk is from accidental exposure.

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