Tests proved the powder-like substance to be 98.6 per cent uranium 235, a highly fissile isotope, indicating that it was highly processed and intended for use in a bomb.
That’s a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t aware that anyone ever processed material up to that isotopic purity. I would guess (and it is very much a guess) that this didn’t in fact come from a bomb plant at all. 80% HEU is more normal for that. I would think this came from a scientific institute instead, from people actually studying the isotope.
As fo this bit:
Smugglers arrested in Slovakia this week had enough weapons-grade uranium on them to make a "dirty" bomb.
The half-kilo of material taken in raids near the Ukrainian border on Tuesday was a processed form of uranium used in nuclear weapons.
"It was enriched enough to be used in various ways for terrorist attacks," said Michal Kopcik, the vice-head of Slovak police.
Well, yes, but you don’t actually need enriched uranium to make a dirty bomb. You don’t need uranium at all in fact, plenty of other more easily available radioactive isotopes would do. But take a few pounds of regular uranium, not even the metal, just yellowcake, blow it up with gunpowder and you’ll create all of the panic and concern that any other dirty bomb would create. Because that is of course what a dirty bomb would do: create panic, not in fact be directly life threatening other than the explosion itself.