What are the illicit uses for pure Polonium 210?


   Virtually all of the known production of Polonium 210 – less than 4 ounces a year– comes from two Russian nuclear reactors and is chemically embedded in minute traces in plastic or ceramic and has a half-life of only 137 days. So pure Polonium 210 is exceedingly rare on the nuclear black market. If obtainable, it would be valuable to the following parties:

1) A rogue nation with access to fissile fuel such as U-235.. The Polonium 210, a powerful emitter of Alpha particles, can be used as the initiator for setting off a chain reaction, in combination with Beryllium (which is now available in hi-fi speakers).

2)  A terrorist group interested in building a dirty bomb. Polonium 210, in combination with conventional explosives, such as TNT, aerosolizes at about 55 degrees Centigrade, and would contaminate a wide area.

3)  An agent wishing to demonstrate he had bona fide access to a Russian nuclear reactor for purposes of either espionage or a black-market deal. Only four facilities are licensed to handle Polonium 210 in Russia: Moscow State University; Techsnabexport, the state-controlled uranium export agency; the Federal Nuclear Center in Samara; and Nuclon, a private company. Since all these licensees are monitored by the Russian government, a smuggled sample of Polonium 210 would demonstrate that the agent had successfully bribed, blackmailed or otherwise someone in the Russian nuclear industry.

4)  An anti-Putin faction, such as the Chechen underground. Since Russia is the only known manufacturer of Polonium 210, a minute supply of pure Polonium 210 could be used to paint an easily detectable trail that would lead to Moscow.


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