Nuclear Material Goes Missing in Mexico

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In addition to being unable to control drug cartels, stem gun running, stop or even slow the exodus of its citizens to the north and its’ status as a world class economic basket case, we can now add Mexico’s inability to secure nuclear fuel, radioactive waste and industrial grade X-Ray equipment from the nation’s nuclear industry from theft.

So says the U.S. State Department in a statement confirming an alert issued by Mexico’s National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards last week that thieves stole iridium-192 from Cárdenas, a city in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. The theft led Mexico’s government to issue several alerts and warnings to citizens about the theft.

Construction and fabrication companies use iridium-192 to perform X-Ray tests that verify the integrity of materials, welds and other industrial processes involved in the building and manufacturing sectors. The radioactive material poses a health hazard and could poison anyone exposed to the substance.

According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon (WFB) on Friday, US officials said:

“Mexican authorities informed us on April 16 that a container with iridium-192 used for portable industrial x-ray analyses was stolen from a truck in Tabasco State…” The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are now “in contact with Mexican officials about the incident…” and “We stand ready to provide support if requested by the Mexican government.”

Quoting again from WFB:

The materials are reported to be “very hazardous to health,” according to Spanish language reports translated by the CIA’s Open Source Center. The theft prompted the Mexican government to issue several warning alerts throughout at least five Southern municipalities including “Comalcalco, Cunduacan, Huimanguillo and Reforma…”

Mexico’s Civil Protection agency also warned:

“…if the radioactive source is not handled with [the correct] technical safety conditions or without physical safety protections, it could cause permanent injuries to the person manipulating or maintaining contact with it for a brief (minutes to hours) period of time…” The materials could “prove fatal to be near to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of hours to days…”

Mexican officials speculate that the thieves were motivated by car theft and did not realize that dangerous radioactive materials were stored in the vehicle.

This dovetails badly with menacing reports in recent weeks that the terrorist Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is operating on the ground in Mexico just miles from America’s southern border – reports the State Department dismissed as “unfounded.”