08TBILISI2212, GEORGIA: RECENT ARRESTS SHOW PROGRESS ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2212 2008-11-26 14:05 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #2212 3311405
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 261405Z NOV 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0467
INFO RUEANFA/NRC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T TBILISI 002212 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2018 
TAGS: KNNP PARM PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: RECENT ARRESTS SHOW PROGRESS ON 
PREVENTING NUCLEAR SMUGGLING 
 
REF: STATE 117568 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1. (S/NF) Summary and Comment:  Joint cooperation between the 
USG and the Georgian government has improved Georgia's 
ability to prevent nuclear smuggling.  One area in which the 
government of Georgia continues to improve is the 
investigation of nuclear smuggling cases and the prosecution 
of traffickers.  The latest example, an October arrest and 
prosecution in Tbilisi of three Georgian radioactive 
materials traffickers, highlights this progress.  Despite 
substantial advancement of its anti-nuclear smuggling 
capabilities, the government's nonproliferation regime still 
has considerable gaps.  For example, it is not always able to 
respond to incidents where radiation is detected in a timely 
manner, due in large part to financial limitations.  The 
government continues to rely heavily on U.S. and 
international assistance in strengthening Georgia's resources 
to prevent nuclear smuggling.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
SUCCESS STORY 
 
2. (S/NF) The USG and the government of Georgia have a long 
history of close cooperation to secure radiological sources 
in Georgia and to improve Georgia's efforts to prevent 
nuclear smuggling.  On October 16 and November 19, U.S. and 
Georgian delegations met in Tbilisi to review the joint 
action plan to improve Georgia's anti-nuclear smuggling 
capabilities, which was signed on February 2, 2007 (see 
reftel and septel).  One area which was identified as a 
priority need in the joint action plan was maintaining 
Georgia's efforts to arrest and prosecute all identified 
nuclear smugglers.  The Georgians have had considerable 
success in this area, as indicated by the October 13 arrest 
of three Georgian radioactive materials traffickers, who were 
later sentenced to imprisonment (see TD/314-076336-08).  The 
traffickers were arrested in Tbilisi after a sting operation 
in which they attempted to sell cessium-137 to an informant. 
The traffickers initially attempted to market the material as 
uranium, but then acknowledged it was cessium, reportedly 
from Russia.  A fourth member of the group is still being 
sought.  Information regarding the arrests and prosecutions 
has not been released to the press, and reportedly not even 
to other government organizations, due to the sensitivity of 
the operation.  The investigation is ongoing, and in fact, 
the associates of the traffickers are not even aware of their 
arrest. 
 
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT 
 
3. (S) The government struggles, however, to fully implement 
all of the requirements set in the joint action plan. 
Working level government officials attribute this primarily 
to financial restraints and a lack of high-level government 
support.  One example is their inability to consistently 
respond quickly to incidents of radiation detection.  This is 
due both to Georgia's geography and the absence of a western 
field office of the Nuclear Radiation Security Service 
(NRSS), the agency responsible for responding to incidents 
involving radioactive sources.  The only NRSS office is in 
Tbilisi.  However, while the Georgian government still has 
much work to do to further develop its capabilities to 
prevent nuclear smuggling, the ability to successfully 
investigate and prosecute nuclear trafficking cases speaks 
volumes for its efforts thus far. 
TEFFT

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