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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nuclear Smuggling Reports 'Insulting'

VIENNA -- Moscow's top atomic energy official said Monday that reports singling out Russia as the main source of smuggled nuclear materials were groundless and sometimes insulting.

"I have read a great deal of press reporting addressed to Russia, where Russia is singled out as the target for these complaints," said Viktor Mikhailov, head of Russia's atomic energy ministry. "As of today I see no grounds for such charges against us."

"There has been much speculation on this score, which at times is insulting to the Russian people," he said.

Mikhailov was addressing the general conference of the 121-nation International Atomic Energy Agency, which is taking up nuclear smuggling and other issues at its annual week long meeting in Vienna.

U.S. Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary also complained about "almost hysterical reporting of events" regarding smuggled materials that could be used in nuclear weapons.

She urged the IAEA to take responsibility "for analyzing the information that's available, and to calm down a public who might be pandered to by a press who, quite frankly, may be only selling newspapers."

Earlier, IAEA Director General Hans Blix said he hoped to convene an international "round table of government experts" to determine how the IAEA might help curb nuclear smuggling.

Germany has reported several recent seizures of smuggled plutonium and highly enriched uranium, key ingredients in nuclear bombs, which were believed to have come from Russia.