Not since the end of the Cold War and the heyday of Tom Clancy novels has nuclear proliferation been so clearly a worldwide concern — between the ongoing pursuit of nuclear arms by states like Russia and North Korea and the potential for materials to fall into the hands of terrorists or other rogue actors. Turkish police may have prevented the latter recently after arresting four suspects who were in possession of a rare nuclear substance.
According to Haaretz, Turkish police in the capital of Ankara have detained the suspects after the substance was found in their cars during a search (you can see photos of the substance here) as part of an anti-smuggling operation, and an investigation is underway. The substance, Californium, a synthetic radioactive element, is made in labs and is used to kick-start nuclear reactors (although it does have medicinal qualities and is used in some forms of cancer treatment).
The police found over three pounds on the suspects, with a value believed to be over $70 million. The source of the Californium is unknown, but the U.S. and Russia are the only countries manufacturing the substance. Turkish police haven’t revealed who the suspects are or who they were intending to sell the nuclear materials to. The substance was turned over to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, who will continue probing the matter.