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Security Sting: Feds able to buy nuclear material using forged license and fake firm

GAO report exposes vulnerabilities in handling of nuclear materials that has alarmed one Congressman.

Published: August 10, 2022 11:38pm

Updated: August 11, 2022 1:16am

Exposing a stunning security lapse, Government Accountability Office investigators were able to forge a license and buy dangerous radioactive materials through a shell company.

The investigators were able to trick two U.S. vendors to ship the material, according to a new GAO report exposing weaknesses in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ability to regulate the sale and procurement of dangerous materials.

The report said the watchdog “provided a copy of a license that GAO forged to two vendors, subsequently obtained invoices and paid the vendors.” In the end, GAO did not accept the shipment, instead it “safely and securely” returned the radioactive material to the vendors.

Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, is calling on the NRC to tighten licensing and oversight to avert a national security disaster.

“While radioactive materials have legitimate medical and industrial uses, the illicit possession, purchase and use of radioactive materials poses an extreme threat to homeland security,” Torres wrote in a letter to the agency.

”Without additional security protocols, including a more rigorous system of independent license verification, a terrorist could exploit current vulnerabilities to obtain radioactive material and weaponize it into a dirty bomb against a soft target in America’s largest cities.”

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