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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pentagon Denies News Report Of Missing Kazakh Uranium

WASHINGTON -- There is no evidence that a significant amount of uranium is missing from the cache purchased from Kazakhstan in 1994 and transferred to the United States, a Pentagon spokesman has said.

Officials believe an "accounting problem'' is to blame for the different estimates in the amount the Kazakhstan government said it sold to the United States and the amount now being measured by technicians, spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Thursday.

The Washington Times, in a report published Thursday, quoted a Department of Energy official as saying that the difference amounted to 120 pounds, or enough to produce two nuclear bombs.

In November 1994, Air Force C-5 cargo jets flew the material out of Kazakhstan. The move was conducted to get the bomb-grade material "forever out of the reach of potential black marketeers,'' Defense Secretary William Perry said when he announced the secret operation.

Bacon told reporters that the accounting problem may be due to the fact that the uranium is in a number of different forms that could make an exact measurement difficult.

Asked whether any of the material could have been diverted prior to the final movement to America, Bacon said U.S. officials were "quite confident'' that security was adequate.

Queried whether there was any evidence that Iranians may have obtained some of the material, Bacon said, "None that I know of.''

The material was purchased because its care amounted to a major financial drain on the former Soviet republic, which had no intention of using it.

Kazakhstan inherited the material from the former Soviet Union when it dissolved in 1991.