INTSUM: Radionuclide Cargo Intercepted at Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border

On 31 December 2007 border control officials at the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border intercepted a cargo with radiation exceeding 1000 mR/hr on a Tajik train, which originated in Kazakhstan and was heading toward Iran. The cargo’s origin itself is unknown. The train passed undetected through three border control checks before Uzbek authorities detected the dangerous cargo and derailed the train back to Kyrgyzstan. Despite the fact that the incident occurred on 31 December, no official information was released until nine days later. Eyewitnesses leaked information to 24 Hours news agency, which published a communiqué on 9 January 2008. A day later, the Central Asia service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty folowed the story with a longer exposé, confirming the incident. Kyrgyz and Uzbek officials are investigating the case.


While the origin of the cargo is at this point unknown, the fact that the train was bound toward Iran is unlikely to be a coincidence, given Tehran’s nuclear activities. This, in combination with local authorities failing to announce the incident for nine days, and subsequently refusing to comment, is likely to raise US and other Western countries’ concerns about Kyrgyz, and Central Asia countries’ in general, involvement in trafficking nuclear materials between former Soviet Union republics and countries in the Middle East with purported interest in acquiring such materials, as well as the latter’s alleged support for terrorism.

Source Reliability: 8

Analytic Confidence: 7


4 Responses

  1. Looks like the Iranians are <a href=”″ denying it. Any info on what the cargo was?

  2. Looks like the Iranians are denying it. Any info on what the cargo was?

  3. According to the RFL: “Kubanych Noruzbaev, an official from the Kyrgyz Ecology and Environmental Protection Ministry, said on January 10 that the material was cesium-137, a product of nuclear reactors and weapons testing that is often used in medical devices and gauges. But it could also be used in a crude radioactive explosive device — a “dirty bomb”…

    The Iranians can deny it all they want. Regardless whether it was a Tajik, Kazakh, or Kyrgyz train, its final destination was Iran. Even if the cargo was not heading toward Iran, but say somewhere in northern Afghanistan, this does not underscore the importance of the fact that someone put the cargo on the train and this cargo had a definite destination.

  4. And another take on the story from

    they seem to think it was a question of sloppiness…

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