Tests Planned on Substance Labeled Uranium

Military police officials said Mon­day that tests will be conducted on a substance purported to be uranium seized earlier this month in a Battambang hotel.

Three men identified as former Khmer Rouge soldiers from Sam­lot district were arrested May 10 by military authorities after being discovered with more than 9 kg of material in a large block bearing a skull and cross bones insignia and marked “uranium” and “Made in USA,” Pao Vannak, Battambang military police commander, said Monday.

“We don’t know where they got this substance from….But they said that it is uranium and they were trying to sell it for $1 mil­lion,” said Pao Vannak. He said they would not disclose how they obtained the supposedly high­ly radioactive materials.

Sin Sophanny, chief of the military police intelligence bureau, said a test request is be­ing forwarded to the Cambodian Mine Action Cen­ter. CMAC has conducted similar tests be­fore.

A US diplomat in Phnom Penh said Monday that a similar bust last year proved to be nothing more than a scam when experts from the US found that the substance was not uranium or any other radioactive substance.

Former Cambodian Interpol official and now adviser to the National Authority for Combat­ting Drugs Skadavy Mathly Roun also said Monday that similar uranium scams have cropped up in Cam­bodia.

“They are just trying to cheat people to get money. We have seized this many times before,” said Skadavy Mathly Roun.

Four men were arrested last August trying to sell 2 kg of a substance they said was uranium. More than 20 kg of the sub­stance was seized in 1995.

(Add­itional reporting by Phann Ana)

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