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Spy Death Due To "radiation Poisoning"  
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3169 times:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6180682.stm

The plot thickens with this one. The British police have apparently asked Moscow for "any information" on Litvinenko's death, which seems to me that they're basically saying "It woz you wot done it, admit it, you done it didn't you?", otherwise why ask them?

Can't see them proving it mind, but it's an extraordinary story.


She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3151 times:

It is extraordinary, thought I can't quite see any charges ever being brought.

Whatever the truth, I dont think it would have been authorised by Putin himself, or even any other senior members of the party. Polonium 210 does seem to hint at a state-backed killer (thought not necessarily state-authorised); the isotope is usually produced by bombarding bismuth 209 with neutrons in a reactor. With a halflife of 138 days, that kind of limits the potential sources.

All this talk of a 'major dose' must be taken into context. According to my old uni textbooks, the maximum allowed ingested dose of polonium is 0.03 microcurie. That's a whopping 6.8e-12 grams of the stuff! Furthermore, it's a pure alpha emitter, so all damage will be confined to the victim, and it's soluble, meaning treatment is pretty much useless.


User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3146 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 1):
With a halflife of 138 days, that kind of limits the potential sources.

And with such a radioactive compound, they should be able to identify every specific reactor this could come from or at least eliminate specific reactors (hint - they can narrow it down to the exact reactor, since the signature of nonpure trace compounds is unique to each reactor).


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3141 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 1):
All this talk of a 'major dose' must be taken into context

Well, yes. Though it should be apparent to anyone with half a brain that "major dose" doesn't mean six pounds of the stuff.

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 2):
And with such a radioactive compound, they should be able to identify every specific reactor this could come from or at least eliminate specific reactors (hint - they can narrow it down to the exact reactor, since the signature of nonpure trace compounds is unique to each reactor).

Can they really do that, beyond a Hollywood film? Wouldn't they need to have samples from every reactor in the world?



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3137 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 3):
Can they really do that, beyond a Hollywood film? Wouldn't they need to have samples from every reactor in the world?

Already have em - the UN IAEA has the vast majority of samples required (and thus the major countries have them), and from there its a case of 'well, it didnt come from the UK, France, the US, Italy, Germany....'.

Also a reactor woudl have to have had a complete fuel change to change the trace signature from that on record, something that only happens once every 25 or so years, so its quite possible to identify the reactors which wer 'seeded' by a nuclear power producing country.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3130 times:

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 4):

I see. Interesting. But isn't polonium naturally occurring?



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3121 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 3):
Well, yes. Though it should be apparent to anyone with half a brain that "major dose" doesn't mean six pounds of the stuff.

My point is that the amount of the stuff needed to kill someone is absolutely tiny.

Quoting Banco (Reply 3):
Can they really do that, beyond a Hollywood film? Wouldn't they need to have samples from every reactor in the world?

As RichardPrice said, the IAEA will have samples that would allow the UKAEA to eliminate reactors. They can also use mass spectrometry to carry out isotopic and elemental analysis, and combined with gas chromatography, you can find trace organic compounds present. All that can narrow down the origin.

By using mass spectrometry to find the proportion of daughter elements, you can also work out exactly when the polonium was made.


User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3118 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 5):
But isn't polonium naturally occurring?

It's found in uranium ores, but only at about 0.1mg/tonne. You'd have to refine the uranium (or refine residues of uranium processing), or refine radium salts to get it. That's not a good way of getting it, it's very very toxic. The only safe way of obtaining it without spending vast amounts is to bombard bismuth with neutrons in a reactor.

Then again, I last did chemistry in some terrible lectures years ago that I was glad to see the back of.

Interestingly, forensic chemists have quite an arsenal for working out where radioisotopes come from. Since the 60s there's been a constant albeit small stream of illegal nuclear material trafficing.

[Edited 2006-11-25 01:56:32]

User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3105 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 7):
Then again, I last did chemistry in some terrible lectures years ago that I was glad to see the back of.

I suspect you did rather more than I did when listening to lectures on the naval wars of the nineteenth century.  Wink



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3100 times:

Universities are moving towards 'problem based learning' bollocks now, which means less lectures and more 'group projects', where the kids learn by themselves. Firstly, it doesn't work - I have grads who don't know basics because they weren't forced to sit and stare at an OHP screen for 40 hours a week.

Secondly, I've sat through some bloody boring lectures in my time. Kids should be forced, Clockword Orange-style, to watch some inaudiable, under-paid, over-worked, plaid-wearing bearded bloke prattle on for hours, just like I was.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3099 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 9):
some inaudiable, under-paid, over-worked, plaid-wearing bearded bloke prattle on for hours, just like I was.

I don't think Skidmarks is qualified to lecture is he? An imposter!



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13252 posts, RR: 77
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3005 times:

Away from this bizzare case, the ability to trace source reactors, for even small amounts of material, was alluded to, by President Chirac a few months ago, in a speech at the French Navies nuclear submarine base.
Warning that if say, terrorists used some kind of nuclear material in an attack on French soil, which could presumably include a dirty bomb as well as something much worse, then the source of this material would potentially be a target of the French SLBM force.

Probably a warning to any state not to even consider any aid in this respect to any non state, or state affiliated groups.
Iran must have been on his mind, the activities of Dr Khan in Pakistan too - though it is unclear if he ever have any support from any arm of the Pakistani state over the decades. Or if a hardcore Islamist regime took power there.
Why the UK govenment has failed to use this example in the arguments about retaining a nuclear force is very puzzling-whatever your opinion on this issue.

(If this sounds far fetched, Israel clandestinely smuggled substantial amounts nuclear material out of the US in the early/mid 60's, before the very pronounced pro Isreal shift of the US in the late 60's).

This case in London clearly points to at least, a state affliated assassin, with or without direct Russian government approval.
Perhaps all those worries, post USSR, about security of former Soviet nuclear installations, the enviromental impact of rusting once assetts, has come home to roost in London in the form of assassination.
Rather than the usual fears of bombs, bomb making material, or other WMD's like massive stockpile of chem/bio agents the USSR had.


User currently offlinePyrex From Portugal, joined Aug 2005, 4059 posts, RR: 30
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2975 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 1):
the isotope is usually produced by bombarding bismuth 209 with neutrons in a reactor.

How do they transform one element into another just by bombarding it with neutrons? Don't they need a source of protons for that, or that comes from the sliced 'n diced atoms of bismuth?



Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2955 times:

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 12):
How do they transform one element into another just by bombarding it with neutrons? Don't they need a source of protons for that, or that comes from the sliced 'n diced atoms of bismuth?

The source of the protons is the Bismuth itself - neutron bombardment forces the element to undergo fission, breaking some atoms into parts which then recombine with others to form heavier elements.


User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2941 times:

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 12):
How do they transform one element into another just by bombarding it with neutrons? Don't they need a source of protons for that, or that comes from the sliced 'n diced atoms of bismuth?

Bombarding bismuth 209 with neutrons creates bismuth 210, which is the parent of polonium 210. The bismuth 210 decays into polonium 210.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2838 times:

A story that moves from the bizarre to the serious.

The shit's going to hit the fan on this of the police find Russian involvement.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6157707.stm



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline9V From China, joined Aug 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2825 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 15):

Have you seen the new British Airways livery on London-Moscow flights?



 Big grin


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2819 times:

Quoting 9V (Reply 16):
Have you seen the new British Airways livery on London-Moscow flights?

 biggrin  Didn't take long, did it?



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineTHVGJP From Ukraine, joined Mar 2002, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 2774 times:

[quote=Banco,reply=15]The shit's going to hit the fan on this of the police find Russian involvement[/q

I really doubt it, if Putin ordered it personally, maybe some repurcussions, heck a few years ago the President of Ukraine was caught on tape implicating himself in the dissapearance/murder of a journalist. Nothing has been done about this yet, some talk of a trial but none yet. If some Russian spook did the assasination , Russia wil most likely deny knowledge of it and then swap him for some British spy later. The KGB has a long list of people who have been liquidated to furthur the gaoals and protect the honor of the socialist homeland. In almost all of these assasinations exotic poisons/neurotoxins were used and delivered to the victim in ingenious ways. Example, Ricin laced pellets injected into the victim with a umbrella pellet gun, Short acting, fast metabolizing cardiotoxins aerosolised into the victims face to ilicit cardiac arrest. are just a few of the past KGB proven killing methods. In both these cases the agtents involved were found out and arrested, one defected to Germany though. My point is one would figure these killing methods are not very economical, from a cost/benefit standpoint.. Lots of effort, research and planning went into these killings and attempts, and the perpetrator still was caught. A simple kidnapping/shooting assasination away from witnesses would be much more effective in silencing certain enemies of the state. It would look like a mugging of random attack, the perp could get away and still get the job his masters sent him to do done, without all the James Bond cloak and dagger baloney.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 19, posted (8 years 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 2763 times:

The difference here is that Litvinenko was a British citizen. We're not in the middle of the cold war, and we're not talking about silencing a dissident in their own country. The murder of Georgi Markov in 1978 did cause a diplomatic incident anyway.

But because things are supposed to be different now, the British have "requested" (i.e. demanded) Russian assistance. If it isn't forthcoming, then you're going to see diplomatic repercussions. It's not like anyone's going to go to war over it, but then countries rarely do. If thousands of people have then been put at possible risk on BA aircraft (in reality, the risk is low, but that isn't the point), then the British government are going to be hopping mad about it. And so are the Americans.

It's going to come back to how Russia reacts.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline9V From China, joined Aug 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (8 years 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 2738 times:

This news just in from the BBC:



User currently offlinePbottenb From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 431 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (8 years 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2691 times:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/a...o+Russian+nuclear+plant/article.do

OK - My question for all of you is where is the outrage?

If it was claimed to involve Pres Bush or the US I think that there would be many threads about it with condemnations coming from all around. But when it involves Russian officials (at least former officials), and at least potentially implicates the Russian President there is almost an acceptance of it as if it is business as usual (if indeed there are connections).

Remember that this is the same country (along with China) that is stopping sanctions against Iran and N Korea for their nuclear proliferation. It is also the same country that proved that it has the power to shut down Europe when it unilaterally cut off gas supplies to the Ukraine within the last year or so.

Shame


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 22, posted (8 years 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 2669 times:

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 21):
If it was claimed to involve Pres Bush or the US I think that there would be many threads about it with condemnations coming from all around

Of course! The point being we'd never expect the US to be involved in something like that, because (disputes over foreign policy notwithstanding) you're better than that. Hence there would be outrage. Russian elements doing it? Well, depends if they were officially backed. If so, expect fury, if, not, we aren't quite so surprised.

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 21):
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/a...o+Russian+nuclear+plant/article.do

I'd advise caution over this article though. It isn't being generally reported like this, so the truth of it is unverifiable at this stage.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlinePbottenb From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 431 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (8 years 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2653 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 22):
Of course! The point being we'd never expect the US to be involved in something like that, because (disputes over foreign policy notwithstanding) you're better than that. Hence there would be outrage. Russian elements doing it? Well, depends if they were officially backed. If so, expect fury, if, not, we aren't quite so surprised.

Fair enough, but I would think that we should be holding the Russians to the same standards as the US.


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