Sunday, July 22, 2007

Walking The Cat Back

Don’t Jump To Conclusion, even if the cat is radioactive

Polonium 210, the extremely rare radioactive isotope that proved fatal to Alexander Litvinenko on November 23, 2006, can be traced back to a meeting that took place at 140 Osier Crescent on Muswell Hill in London in the summer of 2006. That townhouse, valued at over one-million dollars, was owned, along with other town houses on the street, by the billionaire Russian exile Boris Berezovsky. At that meeting were two former KGB officers: Alexander "Sasha" Litvinenko, and Andrei Lugovoi. Litvinenko, who defected from Russia in November 2000, worked as a political advisor to Berezovsky (although Berezovsky was not present that night). Lugovoi had a successful business in Moscow distributing beverages and providing security services. What both men had in common is that they both had worked to protect Berezovsky in Russia when he was at the zenith of his power in the late 1990s and they had both been jailed for services they had done for Berezovsky after he fell from power (See Who’s Who In the Polonium Game). With its off-street parking , the townhouse provided them a secluded venue. Their business, according to Lugovoi, was setting up a "joint venture" between London and Moscow. The idea was that Litvinenko would supply British clients and financial backing and Lugovoi, who still had connections with Russian ex-KGB officers, who had formed a security service in Moscow called the Ninth Wave, would provide the services to help these British businessmen operate in Russia. After the meeting at Osier Crescent. Litvinenko gave Lugovoi a batch of items, including documents, to take back to Moscow that subsequently tested positive for Polonium 210, according to Lugovoi. (Since Polonium 210 has a brief half-life, 138.4 days, before half of it decays to non-radioactive elements, this dating can be verified by spectrographic analysis .) If so, the first appearance of the smuggled Polonium 210 was in the Summer, many months before Litvinenko died. The townhouse itself was so thoroughly contaminated by Polonium 210 that it was still uninhabitable– and unsalable– in the summer of 2007.
The reason that the Polonium 210 was not detected at Osier Crescent at the time, or even after Litvinenko was hospitalized in November, is that Polonium 210 is rarely found outside a nuclear lab. Indeed, its production is so tightly controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that when minute Polonium 210 traces were detected on equipment in Iran in the 1990s, it raised concerns that Iran was building a nuclear bomb since Polonium 210, in combination with Beryllium, can be used as the initiator for the chain reaction in a crude nuclear bomb. So IAEA inspectors, rushed to inspect Iran’s reactors but found no evidence that they had produced Polonium 210. The issue of whether the Polonium 210 had been smuggled inti Iran from Russian, Pakistan or other black market source or merely a residue on the equipment that Iran had imported was never resolved.
The London Polonium 210, however, set off no alarm bells. After that summer meeting, the next time its presence could be positively dated was October 16th, 2006. That day Lugovoi returned to London with his associate Dimitry Kovtun (See Who’s Who In The Polonium Game) and met at the offices of Erinys, a British consulting form, which Lugovoi suspected was a front for British intelligence. Litvinenko was present at that meeting as well as a number of British consultants who were interested in the "joint venture." Afterwards, the offices of Erinys tested positive for Polonium 210. So did the two rooms at the Parkes Hotel in Knightsbridge, where Lugovoi and Kovtun stayed on the night of October 16th. Lugovoi also visited the office of Berezovsky (supposedly to help arrange security for his relatives in Russia), and those offices later tested positive for Polonium 210.
Kovtun was certainly contaminated by October 28th 2006. That day he flew to Hamburg, where he had lived for 12 years, to renew his German residence permit. The permit was tainted with Polonium 210. So was the house he stayed in from the 28th to the 30th. These traces could be no more than sub-microscopic particles that attached themselves to dust or fibers.
On November 1st, Litvinenko visited four sites that later tested positive for Polonium 210. First, he went to the Itsu Sushi restaurant for lunch with Mario Scaramella (See Who’s Who In The Polonium Game), who had just flown to London from Italy. After that lunch, Scaramella was found to be contaminated by Polonium 210, and hospitalized . Next, at about 5 p.m., he went to the Pine Bar the Millennium Hotel to meet Lugovoi and Kovtun, who were also carriers. Not surprisingly, a dozen people in the Pine Bar showed traces of Polonium 210. Afterwards, he went to Berezovsky’s Mayfair office, where he used a fax machine, which also tested positive for Polonium 210. He then was driven home by the Chechen leader Akhmed Zakayev (See Who’s Who In The Polonium Game) whose car was tainted with Polonium 210.
Two days later, after cancelling a scheduled meeting with Lugovoi, Litvinenko was hospitalized with acute stomach pains. After he died on November 29th, the autopsy examination found that he had ingested Polonium 210 on two separate occasions, according to the London Telegraph. A tiny speck, as little as one millionth of a gram can be fatal if it is ingested. (The Coroner’s Report has not yet been released).
Meanwhile, Lugovoi and Kovtun, who were both hospitalized in Moscow, also tested positive as did their spouses.
So in the summer and fall of 2006 there was a stealth epidemic of Polonium 210 particles, a few which proved fatal to Litvinenko. But who contaminated who?
Table 1
The Stealth Polonium Epidemic
Contacts, Summer-Fall, 2006

Litvinenko Lugovoi Kovtun Scaramella Zakayev
Litvinenko - X X X X
Lugovoi X - X 0 0
Kovtun X X - o o
Scaramella X o o - o

Zakayev X o o 0 -

[To be Continued]