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28 Jan, 2007 04:04

Russia to solve uranium issue with Georgia

Russia to solve uranium issue with Georgia

The imprisonment of a Russian citizen in Georgia for uranium trafficking, has prompted fears the case will further damage relations between the 2 countries. Georgia has said it didn't want to politicise the matter.

Mr Khintsagov was arrested last year in Tbilisi, after trying to sell his radioactive contraband to an undercover Georgian agent. Officials claim he was carrying 100 grams of weapons-grade uranium at the time.

Georgia is saying it doesn't want to politicise the matter. And in an exclusive interview with Russia Today, President Mikhail Sahakashvili suggested the case should be treated as a purely law enforcement issue. “Georgia has never made any secret out of it. Basically, it’s a law enforcement operation and this question should be referred to law enforcement. I think there should be good co-operation of all sides involved. Nobody is interested in nuclear proliferation,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, told reporters the microscopic amounts of the substance supplied by the Georgian authorities were indeed highly enriched uranium, but the samples were not large enough to establish their origin.

The Russians reported their findings to the Georgian side a year ago and say they asked for a bigger sample to conduct further tests. That request, Mr Lavrov maintains, was ignored by Georgian authorities.

The Georgians have accused Russia of being uncooperative in the matter. Mr Lavrov summed up his country's position, saying if Georgia was indeed determined to find out the truth, Russia was more than ready to co-operate.

And Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, for his part said, "I do not have complete information on this, but it [Georgia's accusation] really seems to resemble a provocative act.''