US Arrest Iran-Bound Man With Uranium In His Shoes

American officials arrest a man trafficking uranium ore to Iran, after he came to New York with the ore in his shoes.

JFK airport, where a man with uranium in his shoes was seized

A man was seized for trafficking uranium to Iran after arriving at JFK International Airport in New York with the ore in his shoes.  (Sources: Flickr: Rose Trinh, pchow98)

Iran's efforts uranium enrichment for some purpose, either for electric power or medical services, has been continually been attacked by the United States and Western powers on the grounds that the methods being used to process uranium is primarily used to make nuclear weapons.  Just today, the IAEA announced that Iran has been expanding their processing capacity.  The American response of sanctioning Iran, as well as anyone who tries to do business with Iran in regards to providing or trading nuclear materials, has been pretty strong, and effective.  To give an example, yesterday, US immigration officials in New York City arrested a man, bound for Iran, with uranium in the soles of his shoes.

TSA and ICE officials detained one Patrick Campbell, a 33-year-old American based in Sierra Leone specializing in trading ore, at John F. Kennedy International Airport.  Campbell had been monitored by federal officials following a response to an ad on Chinese website Alibaba.com posted by someone looking to buy partially-processed uranium, also known as yellowcake, in May of 2012.  Eventually, Campbell got in touch with a potential buyer concerning uranium.

The buyer, actually a undercover federal official, asked for 1,000 tons of uranium to be shipped to Iran, disguised as other ores to escape detection.  Patrick Campbell promised to ship the uranium, disguised as chromite, from Sierra Leone to the port city of Bandar Abbas in Iran.  The shipment presented problems—not the least of which being Sierra Leone is not known for mining chromite, and 1,000 tons of any ore is hard to move around—so Campbell came to New York City via Paris to show proof he had the product, hiding it in the soles of his shoes to escape detection from European officials.

Upon arrival, Patrick Campbell was arrested by immigration officials, charged with violating federal law concerning transactions with Iran.  During interrogation, Campbell admitted he engaged in talks for shipping uranium ore to Iran, an obviously taboo subject given the country's nuclear program.  Campbell faces up to 20 years in prison and a million-dollar fine if convicted.

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