By Julian Borger
TBILISI (Guardian) — The Armenian government said this week it had detained a man suspected of supplying nuclear bombgrade uranium to two smugglers caught in Georgia earlier this year trying to sell it on the black market.
The Armenian national security service said Garik Dadayan, who served several months in 2005 for a previous attempt to smuggle highly enriched uranium, had been arrested after information from Georgian investigators. Officials, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said that Armenian security officials were conducting a joint investigation into the March incident with their Georgian counterparts.
Two Armenians, Hrant Ohanyan and Sumbat Tonoyan, have pleaded guilty in a Tbilisi court to an attempt to sell a weapons-grade sample of highly-enriched uranium in the Georgian capital to a man they believed to be a representative of an Islamist jihadist group. The would-be buyer in the alleged March 11 deal was an undercover Georgian security agent.
Ohanyan and Tonoyan, who are expected to be sentenced in the next two weeks, admitted smuggling 18 grams of the uranium into Georgia hidden in a lead-lined cigarette box, which had been stashed in a maintenance hatch aboard a night train from Yerevan.
They told Georgian investigators they had been given the weapons-grade uranium by Dadayan, a petty trader and an acquaintance of Ohanyan’s, who had boasted he could get hold of much more from contacts in the Urals and in Siberia.