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Fissile Material Theft Chronology

Between 1957 and 1965, 100 kilograms of uranium 235 disappeared from a nuclear scrap recycling plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania. The material was weapons grade and suitable for making more than one bomb. The president of the firm was reported to have close ties with Israel. The mystery was never solved. 

The coaster, Scheersberg-A sets sail from Antwerp to Genoa with two hundred tons of uranium.

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The boat does not arrive in Italy as scheduled but in Iskenderun Turkey, empty of its cargo. Years later the owner of the ship was located in a Norwegian prison and identified as an Isreali secret agent. 

Nine Kilograms of weapons grade uranium were found to be missing from a nuclear fuel plant in Erwin, Tennessee. 

May-September 1992
Leonid Smirnov, a chemical engineer at the Luch Scientific Production Association in Podolsk, Russia steals approximately one and one half kilograms of weapons grade highly enriched uranium. He was working alone and had no known potential buyers. 

July 1993
Two Russian naval officers are arrested outside of a storage facility for the Russian Northern Fleet in Andreeva Guba, 40 kilometers from the Norwegian border. They were found to have 1.8 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. Both men claimed to be following military orders. However most Russian authorities believe that the Russian mob was involved. 

November 27, 1993
Three men retired or active in the Russian Navy steal 4.5 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, from a naval base storage facility in Sevmorput, Russia. Authorities were alerted to the theft because one of the thieves carelessly left a door open. The men were arrested several months later trying to sell the stolen material. One of the men arrested stated that it would have taken the Russian Navy 10 years to figure out that the fissile material was missing if they had shut the door. 

May 10, 1994
German police in Tengen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, inadvertently discover a vial containing 5.6 grams of nearly pure plutonium-239 in the garage of Adolf Jaekle. Though the origin and the destination of the material is not known it is believed to have originated from the Russian nuclear weapons laboratory Arzamas-16. 

June 13, 1994
German authorities in Bavaria report that they seized 800 milligrams of highly enriched uranium in Landshut, Germany. On August 8 they arrest a German real estate dealer and five men from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The material may have come from a naval or research reactor. 

August 10, 1994
The Bavarian Police seize a suitcase from a Lufthansa flight originating in Moscow. It contains a plastic bag with several hundred grams of Lithium-6 (used to make Tritium) and a metal container holding 560 grams of mixed oxides of uranium and plutonium (363 grams of Pu-239). This makes it the largest seizure of weapons grade material in the West. Circumstantial evidence places the fissile material as Russian in origin. After further investigation German authorities contend that German intelligence entrapped the smugglers. 

December 14, 1994
Prague police acting on an anonymous telephone call seize 2.72 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from the back seat of a car. Police arrest 3 men: a man from the Czech Republic, one from Belarus, and one from the Ukraine. All three had backgrounds in the nuclear industry. The fissile material is believed to be from the same origin as those found in Germany.