Red Mercury

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Kiev, 17 May: Employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in Odessa Region have detained members of an organized group of citizens of Ukraine and Middle Eastern countries who were illegally exporting radioactive materials from Ukraine. The press service of the SBU's Odessa Region department said the foreigners obtained a large consignment of "red mercury" in Ukraine and intended to smuggle it out of the country using specially designed containers that were carefully hidden in concealed compartments when crossing the border. ... {Source: Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, "Ukrainian Security Breaks Up Gang Smuggling Radioactive Material", May 17, 2004 0751 gmt (translated from the Russian by BBC Monitoring)]

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U.S. intelligence officers found several Iraqi-government file cabinets full of offers Saddam had received for quantities of "red mercury," a supposedly ultrapowerful nuclear material that scientists say does not really exist. U.S. intelligence sources say that what the documentation really seems to show is that while Saddam never lost his lust for nukes, over the last several years Iraq in effect had become a favorite target of the world's nuclear scam artists. [Source: Mark Hosenball, "Nuclear Weapons: Saddam and the Scam Artists", Newsweek, May 17, 2004, p. 8]

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One of the most interesting products smugglers are trying to sell is the radioactive compound antimony mercuric oxide or commonly known as "red mercury", which goes for $6 million dollars for one kilogram. Izzet Huseyin explained that right now he has 2 kg of red mercury and if he manages to sell 1 kg, he will quit everything and live in luxury for the rest of his life. He says that in Iraq 1 kg of red mercury costs $6 million dollars; however he can agree on a lesser price with our bosses. He also said that much of what is sold as red mercury is fake but when asked how can we be sure of the product, Izzet replied: "There are experts in Turkey that can determine authenticity, I know this. Call them and let them come, I trust my product." [Source: Turks.us, "Art Smugglers' Best Customers in Iraq are Americans", November 30 2003 8:17 pm CST -- http://www.turks.us/article.php?story=20031130201704656 ]

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[Kenya]: The Director of Betting Control and Licensing Board, Mr Timothy Sirma, was on Saturday arrested by police after he was found with a substance suspected to be uranium worth millions of shillings. The former Coast Provincial Commissioner was arrested together with two foreigners with whom he was travelling in his official vehicle. The trio were nabbed by plainclothes officers who posed as potential buyers of the product. Sirma was released after a 12-hour interrogation. The substance was stored in a rectangular metal box. Sirma denied before the police he was carrying the prohibited substance, saying what they had was "Red Mercury."... Police sources said Sirma walked out of the cells a free man at night. [Source: The East African Standard, "Kenya: Former Coast PC Held Over Uranium Haul", September 17, 2002]

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[Angola]: Unexploded ordnance littering the countryside ... poses a deadly threat. Many Angolans have been killed while disassembling unexploded rockets and artillery shells in search of the mythical "red mercury," a substance whose existence is reportedly promulgated by unscrupulous metal scrap dealers. [Source: Paul Jeffrey, African Church Information Service, "Angola: Land Mines Have Crippled Peace", July 29, 2002]

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In France, an authoritative witness has confirmed Saudi efforts to obtain red mercury. Jean Guyaux, former scientific adviser to the director of DST, this week published his memoirs entitled "The Sciences Spy: Scams and Quirks of Scientific Espionage" (L'Espion des Sciences: Arnaques et Arcanes du Contre-Espionnage Scientifique" (published by Flammarion). Contacted by Intelligence Online, Guyaux said Saudi Arabia bought a total of around 700 kilograms of red mercury. In his book, Guyaux explained that red mercury was in fact antimonide mercury. The Russians initially got the Libyans to believe that when mixed with uranium dust the substance would have the same qualities as enriched uranium. To lend credence to the scam, members of the London Club fed misinformation to the monthly International Defense Review, which regularly talked of the mysterious properties of red mercury. [Source: intelligenceonline.com, "Red Mercury is Back in Business", February 28, 2002]

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When Osama Bin Laden was receiving a lot of money from backers in Saudi Arabia between 1990 and 1992 to found his Al Qaeda movement businessmen close to the Saudi king were caught in a "red mercury" trap in Switzerland. The CIA's aim now is to look carefully at protagonists in that decade-old affair to determine whether they might have later provided real radioactive substances to Al Qaeda. Intelligence Online has a letter dated March 13, 1992 and signed by Bernard Rohrbasser, the Swiss prefect in the district of Veveyse in the canton of Fribourg, that authorizes the sale "of a product named red mercury" to Saudi Arabia. And Rohrbasser added that red mercury "is not considered by the federal military department as a war materials product." [Source: intelligenceonline.com, "Red Mercury is Back in Business", February 28, 2002]

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Definition: In sales and scam attempts, red mercury is claimed to be an essential ingredient in both nuclear weapons and missile guidance systems; the material as described is non-existent. Starting in 1991, sellers began offering physical samples of a reddish colored powder (either mercuric oxide or mercuric iodide) for sale as bomb ingredients. Both compounds are of little monetary value, are not dangerous, and are not usable components in nuclear weapons preparation. [Source: New Mexico WMD Working Group, New Mexico Department of Public Safety, Office of Emergency Management, "WMD, Terrorism and other Related Terms", 2000 -- http://www.wmd-nm.org/members/office/glossary/index.asp?where=r ]

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Late in 1993 a disturbing new element appeared. Russian crime syndicates were offering for sale a substance hitherto unknown to the West, called simply 'red mercury'. It was said to be a secret product of the Soviet nuclear industry. On 23 December 1993 five Moldavian nationals were caught trying to enter Romania carrying some pure uranium together with what they said was this red mercury. It was destined for the nuclear black market.
Worried Western scientists sought to establish whether this substance actually existed and, if so, exactly what it was. But in 1994 the US Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency declared red mercury to be 'bogus'. They argued that it was just another fraud perpetrated by the Russian mafia on would be purchasers of illicit nuclear goods.
But certain Western nuclear physicists had good reason to think otherwise. And they suspected the accusations of fraud to be motivated by the desire to cover up an unpalatable truth.
In the June 1994 edition of International Defence Review, nuclear physicist Dr Frank Barnaby wrote of his conversation with an anonymous Soviet physicist. He had been told that this red mercury was a vital component in a revolutionary type of Russian nuclear bomb. It had proved such an efficient catalyst in the detonation of these devices that they could be built many times smaller and lighter than their Western equivalents.
Dr Barnaby explained that with the use of this red mercury a nuclear bomb weighing only four to six pounds could be constructed. He was concerned since such a weapon could easily be placed in a city centre and detonated. He expressed his fears about the danger of this technology falling into the hands of some terrorist group. His information was that a number of Middle Eastern countries - Israel, Iran, Iraq and Libya - and Pakistan had already illicitly purchased quantities of this substance for weapons production. At least some of these countries are known supporters of terrorist groups and might be expected to pass on either the technology or the finished product.
The reported production of this substance has distinct parallels with the alchemical process. If any alchemists worked in the heart of the Russian military complex with access to modern equipment, it is easy to think of them inventing something like red mercury. According to the Russian scientist, the recipe for making it is as follows :
1) Antimony sesquioxide and mercuric oxide are heated together at a temperature of 500 degrees centigrade under one atmospheric pressure of oxygen. This heating must continue without pause or fluctuation for two days. It produces a substance called mercury antimony oxide. This was not described publicly in the scientific press until as recently as 1968.
2) Next dissolve this mercury antimony oxide in pure mercury, using equal weights of each substance. Seal this mixture in a container and place it inside an atomic reactor. Irradiate it for about twenty days at a temperature of 500 degrees centigrade.
3) After this time all excess mercury is tipped off leaving a 'cherry red' substance with a consistency similar to liquid honey. Capsules of this thick fluid are placed inside the nuclear bombs.
It is indeed curious that this manufacturing procedure should involve mercury and such lengthy reaction times. It is curious too that, in addition to mercury, antimony is involved. The twelfth-century alchemist Artephius wrote of a special tincture which contained both antimony and sublimated mercury for which many dramatic uses were promised.
The creation of the initial chemical compound of mercury antimony oxide was admitted only in 1968; red mercury is not yet openly accepted. ...
[Source: Ashley Rye , "IUFO: Red Mercury and Alchemy", IUFO Mailing List, November 8, 1999]

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In January, Evgenny Primakov, Russia's chief spy, denied that red mercury existed and claimed that deals involving it "are used by mafia structures as a means of laundering dirty money, including income from the drugs business." America's State Department agrees with him. A cable sent earlier this year to American embassies around the world gave a warning: "Since the late 1970s, there have been at least 25 attempts to sell various quantities of an alleged nuclear material described as 'red mercury' . . . After careful consideration of the claimed physical properties of the alleged material, it became apparent that 'red mercury' (as a nuclear substance) does not exist."
Those who want to believe in the existence of red mercury are unabashed. Pravda, the leading anti-Yeltsin newspaper in Moscow, has printed excerpts of what it claims is a memo from Mr Primakov, dated March 21st 1992, in which the spook outlined the properties of red mercury, or mercuric salt of antimonous acid as it is also known, in detail. The previous month, Mr Yeltsin signed a secret decree giving Prom-ecologia the right to export red mercury, an order which was rescinded on March 20th 1993. Pravda claims that red mercury was first synthesised in 1968 and has been smuggled out of Russia for many years. [Source: The Economist, "Fools' Mercury", May 22, 1993, p. 76]

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Newspapers on both sides of the former Iron Curtain have been rife with stories of smuggling arrests by the dozens, of red mercury shipments concealed in automobile fire extinguishers, of bid prices of $150,000, $300,000, even $500,000 a kilogram for the mysterious substance. And why not? Judging by the numerous claims on its behalf, red mercury is a modern philosopher's stone that can do just about anything: It makes stealth aircraft stealthier, infrared sensors more sensitive, counterfeits harder to detect -- and atom bombs smaller and easier to build.
As the deadliest version of the legend has it, red mercury is an antimony mercury oxide that was developed in the Soviet Union as a simpler, more efficient trigger for atomic bombs. Such triggers, which surround a core of plutonium or enriched uranium, must have at least two attributes: They must be shaped so precisely that when exploded they uniformly compress the core, setting off a chain reaction; and they must provide an adequate supply of free neutrons to sustain that reaction. Red mercury supposedly combines both functions within one substance; moreover, because it is liquid it can be shaped more easily, simplifying one of the more difficult aspects of bomb design.
If all that is true, such a substance could accelerate atom bomb development in countries still struggling to develop their nuclear arsenals. It could enable construction of bombs using smaller quantities of fissionable material than needed in standard atomic warheads, making it attractive to countries with limited supplies of plutonium and enriched uranium. And it could result in smaller warheads, which would appeal to terrorists.[Source: Andy Zipser, "Nuclear shell game? A Hard Look at the Mysterious Red Mercury", Barron's, February 15, 1993, p. 15]

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Red Mercury special report

May 27, 2004

nuclear.com is pleased to offer its special report on Red Mercury. Send check or money order for US$795.00 (payable to Steve Schulin), accompanied by stamped, self-addressed, letter-sized envelope to:

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This one-page report is very short. Red mercury is a term that was coined by Soviets many years ago to describe a quite specific substance. It did not refer to an isotope of mercury, nor (directly, anyway) to a mercury compound. This report identifies what the substance is, why it's called red mercury, and describes why the Soviets (and other nuclear weapons states) wanted supplies of it.



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