officials arrested four South African men in the capital city of Pretoria for trying to sell an industrial machine containing nuclear material that could have been used to create a "dirty bomb." The origin of the machine is unknown, although South Africa manufactures large amounts of medical equipment for cancer treatment.
The nuclear material in question was cesium-137, the same kind of radioactive material used by Chechen terrorists in 1995. The rebels buried the material in Moscow's Ismailovsky Park and told officials they would only reveal the burial sites if Russia withdrew its troops from Chechnya. Russian military officials ultimately found the nuclear material with Geiger counters.
While still in the machine, the cesium-137 remains relatively harmless. If extracted, however, it can be used in a "dirty bomb." South African police are on the hunt for the device in which the nuclear material was to be used.
This incident highlights the willingness of individuals to smuggle radioactive material for profit, as well as the reality of nuclear terrorism. Thankfully, officials caught the smugglers before they could hand off the radioactive material, but will we be so lucky next time?