Uranium sale bid by dealer

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A SHEFFIELD metal trader allegedly tried to sell an illegal consignment of uranium to United States authorities on behalf of a contact in the Philippines, according to latest confidential American files released by the WikiLeaks website.

The offer, made by an unnamed “deep sea salvage merchant” based in the city, was highlighted in an internal cable sent by US Embassy officials in London to then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It documents a “potential incident of illicit trafficking in and possible offer of nuclear and/or radiological materials”.

It is one of several reports detailing how nuclear materials have been transported and offered for sale illegally, fuelling fears a so-called dirty bomb packed with radioactive material could be used by Al Qaeda terrorists in an attack on Western targets.

Other incidents highlighted included how trains were found to be carrying illicit nuclear material in Russia and between former Soviet republics, a Portuguese man walked into the US Embassy in Lisbon offering to sell uranium and how ‘yellowcake’ powder - raw uranium - was stolen from a mine in the African state of Namibia.

The US Embassy report about the Sheffield trader, published by Wikileaks, said: “A phone message was received from a male stating he had information in regard to the sale of uranium that formerly belonged to the US.

“He also stated he had previously sent faxes to the Embassy and the CIA, but as yet had not received a response.”

“The Foreign Service National Investigator unit received a phone call from subject, stating he had worked with divers in the Philippines previously and was recently contacted by them with information that they had found five to six uranium “bricks” at the site of an underwater wreck.

“He stated his contacts expressed a desire to sell the “bricks” for profit.”

The report also said the Sheffield man later sent nine photographs of the uranium by email to the embassy. His name and contact details have been removed from the report published by Wikileaks.

It is not detailed what action the US authorities took as a result of the contacts.

The US Embassy was unavailable for comment about the revelations.

Sheffield metal dealer and boxing promoter Denis Hobson said: “The news is a surprise - the scrap metal business is like a village in Sheffield, everybody knows everybody else and what is happening.

“News of someone being involved in anything like that would have spread like wildfire.”