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Ukrainian security agents have arrested a regional lawmaker and two companions for trying to sell a radioactive substance that could be used in making a dirty bomb, officials said Tuesday.
The legislator in the western Ternopyl region and two local businessmen were detained last week for trying to sell 8.2 pounds (3.7 kilograms) of radioactive material to an undercover agent of the security service, said Marina Ostapenko, a spokeswoman for the service.
The suspects tried to peddle the substance as plutonium-239, a highly radioactive material that can be used to build nuclear weapons, and demanded $10 million, Ostapenko said.
But security experts later determined that the material was likely americium, a widely used radioactive material. Ostapenko said it could be used in a dirty bomb, but not nuclear weapons.
The service said in a statement it believes the material was produced in Russia during the Soviet era and smuggled into Ukraine through a neighboring country.
The potentially greatest disaster resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent decade of social decline is the fact that it's nuclear products went unsecured.