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7 October 2015
Only on AP: Moldova Nuclear Smuggling
'Only on AP' highlights AP investigations, in-depth features and character-driven stories that take a different angle on the news.

* Moldova / Nuclear Smuggling / Story #4006939

Early this year, an arms smuggler made his pitch to the client: a cache of caesium, enough to sow deadly radiation upon several city blocks.

"You can make a dirty bomb, which would be perfect for the Islamic State," the smuggler told the buyer, who was an undercover agent posing as an Islamic State representative, at a nightclub in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. "If you have a connection with them, the business will go smoothly."

This previously unreported case is one of at least four attempts in five years in which criminal networks with suspected Russian ties sought to sell radioactive material to extremist groups through Moldova, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.

The investigations involved a fragile partnership between the FBI and a small group of Moldovan investigators, who over five years went from near total ignorance of the frightening black market in their back yard to wrapping up four sting operations - one in 2010, the most serious in 2011, another in 2014 and their latest in February 2015.

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