Mexican police have found dangerous radioactive medical material stolen by thieves that the United Nations said could provide an ingredient for a "dirty bomb," the country's national nuclear safety commission CNSNS said on Wednesday (December 04).

The truck was found close to where it was stolen outside Mexico City. The thieves removed the radioactive material from a protective case, exposing them to dangerous levels of radiation then dumped it less than a mile away.

It is believed the thieves had pulled apart the protective casing to exchange the iron for cash at a recycling centre.

The truck was stolen on Monday (December 02) while it was taking cobalt-60 from a hospital in the northern city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste-storage centre, Mexican officials and the UN agency said earlier.

Residents say they have been kept in the dark by authorities over the discovery of the potentially hazardous cargo in their backyard.

Apart from peaceful medical and industrial applications, experts say, cobalt-60 can also be used in a dirty bomb in which conventional explosives disperse radiation from a radioactive source.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has recently stepped up calls on member states to tighten security to prevent nuclear and radioactive materials from falling into the wrong hands.

Presented by Adam Justice

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