Dec 12 2006

Litvinenko Dosage Was Massive

There is an article out today which helps put the dosage of Polonium 210 into perpsective, and a history lesson which would dictate the Litvinenko incident was not an assassination. It is the only recorded death by Polonium 210, and clearly demontrates Polonium is not a weapon of assassination:

A low-dose exposure was blamed for causing the death of Irene Joliot-Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, who first isolated polonium.

Irene died in 1956 of leukemia caused by accidental exposure when a sealed capsule of the metal exploded on her laboratory bench. Polonium’s alpha rays damage DNA, although in Irene’s case they took more than 10 years to do their deadly work.

Litvinenko passed away much more quickly. On Nov. 23, the 43-year-old died in a London hospital from the intense radiation polonium emits, having ingested it sometime in late October. Even though the dose of poison was tiny — maybe no more than the weight of a speck of dust — it was deadly.

The maximum safe body burden of polonium is only 7 picograms (7 trillionth of a gram). It appears that Litvinenko was given something like a milligram (a thousandth of a gram), which is a billion times the safe level. Polonium-210 is regarded as one of the most dangerous substances known because it ejects alpha particles.

The history shows ten years before the first accidental exposure to what must have been a large amount of Polonium dust took its victim. True, the Curie’s were scientists and they took precautions. But an assassin would have to consider this example a poor result. The assassin theory has mutiple conflicting assumptions. First the assassin is sophisticated so he/she selects this exotic weapon. Then it turns out they know little about the weapon and the trail it leaves:

Whoever the assassin was, he or she had some method of concealing the poison before it was given to Litvinenko. The hidden poison would be undetectable because this isotope emits almost no telltale gamma rays. However, polonium has a tendency to leak from containers. This probably explains why traces have been found in five airliners, particularly those used for flights to Moscow. (Passengers in those aircraft were not at risk.)

Where Litvinenko was poisoned is still not known. But wherever he went after he was poisoned, he left traces of polonium, including his home in the north London suburb of Muswell Hill, a sushi restaurant near Piccadilly Circus where he dined with a friend, a luxury hotel where he met two unidentified Russians, and the home of Russian billionaire exile Boris Berezovsky. His room in the hospital was the most contaminated.

So was this a smart assassin? Apparently not. But why hire a low brow (and low budget) assassin to deliver a poison which costs tens of millions of dollars? That makes no sense either. Polonium 210 is useful as a weapon. Very useful. But that use has nothing to do with poison pills in tea. That is not an effective use of Polonium 210. Its role in a nuclear device or dirty bomb is much more deadly and cost effective. Now, you don’t need to tell a smuggler exactly what they are smuggling when you want to transport contraband. And smugglers might not think or even know about the trail Polonium 210 can leave. If I was in on the smuggling and then took ill, I would spend some serious time negotiating an air tight role as a whistle blower to get as light a sentence as possible in any prosecutions. The radiation poisoning would be punishment enough in many people’s minds.

On a slightly separate topic I would expect people involved in a smuggling ring that went bust like the Litvinenko incident might have to start running for cover. And that is apparently what we see.

Paris. A key witness in Litvinenko case, Andrey [Evgeny; ajstrata] Limarev, has disappeared from his home in the French Alps, the Echo of Moscow Radio reported citing a statement of News Ru. Limarev is a former Federal Security Service agent and a colleague of Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned recently in London. Some time ago, Limarev accused a former agent of the Federal Security Service, of Litvinenko’s death. Limarev told the British press that he would be the next victim. A day later, he went missing.

l which will be twisted by those trying to divert attention from themselves as some sort of act by Putin. Clearly someone is trying to hide something and some form of cleaning up is taking place.

Major Update: I can confidentally predict Lugovoi has signed a plea agreement in this matter:

Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoy, a presumed key witness in the case on the death in London of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, has flatly dismissed media reports alleging that Russian and British investigators repeatedly interrogated him on Tuesday.

“There have not been any investigatory actions today. I have only signed a protocol on not divulging preliminary investigation secrecy, and the signing of a protocol is not, as it is known, an investigatory action,” he told ITAR-TASS.

Berezovsky and Goldfarb and Zakayev must be getting pretty concerned about now. They do seem awefully eager to please all of a sudden. It is not good to pollute the home of someone who has given you shelter.

BTW, here is an interview of Lugovoi in Der Spiegel from a while back which is interesting. I have meetings today but will try to drop in and blog when I can. Update: This is fascinating reading and I hope I can join the debate later today, but one thing that should be noted about Polonium 210 poisoning is it can happen over time. If a person repeatedly visits a location where Polonium 210 is being handled one can build up the toxin to the point it becomes deadly. I only note that because Lugovoi and Kovtun stated Litvinenko was claiming to be poisoned as early as Oct 16th. I would wager this smuggling effort, if it is one, went on for months and involved many more carriers than we are seeing reported now.

194 responses so far

194 Responses to “Litvinenko Dosage Was Massive”

  1. clarice says:

    Perhaps because whatever element was causing the radiation poisoning, the bone marrow would be affected and leukemia the result had the doasge not been so high?

    The WaPo has an article on the case today. Teo special things of interest. The meeting at the Millenium was apparently at 10 a.m. (or so I read that report); The Germans say they are unable to ascertain whether Kovtun’s PO trail indicates he had ingested the PO or simply been in contact with it.

  2. lostinthedrift says:

    Lizarde1, that would be Prussian blue – ferrocyanide.

  3. clarice says:

    “If, as widely believed, the Litvinenko assassination occurred to send a message to dissidents and asylum seekers, then it succeeded. Limarev even dashed away from police protection, an odd choice under the circumstances. His sources have also gone to ground, as the Times puts it, and that makes the trail very chilly indeed.

    Once again, this points towards Moscow and Vladimir Putin. What else besides the FSB under Putin’s heavy hand would strike this kind of fear into witnesses? Certainly not MI-6, which might end up detaining some of the people but wouldn’t attempt to kill any of them. They want witnesses, not dead bodies and missing dissidents. If the threat was Chechen terrorists, then these witnesses would flock to MI-6 and the CIA for protection. They wouldn’t dream of doing so while the two agencies continue to cooperate with the FSB, though.

    It really doesn’t matter at this point. British and European agencies will never capture the real mastermind behind this assassination because he supplies the Continent with a great deal of their energy resources. He’s got diplomatic immunity, and he knows how to run black-bag ops in such a manner as to make a very public point without officially dirtying his hands. The West has little choice but to continue to work with Putin, and so he has put himself out of their reach, for all intents and purposes.

    And that’s why all of the witnesses know they have to disappear — before Putin makes them do so on his bloody terms.”

  4. tempester says:

    It was reported a few weeks ago that limarev was mugged in Italy, his house keys were stolen and that his house in France was broken into using the keys.

  5. Lizarde1 says:

    thanks Lost – of course I knew that – that was one of those funny typos/misspeaks

  6. Lizarde1 says:

    Interesting that Lugovoi and Kovtun are saying the poisoning happened at Erinys – who does this point the finger at?

  7. Lizarde1 says:

    And if the plane that flew Moscow London for the Dec. 16 meeting was contaminated already then their theory is out the window

  8. Lizarde1 says:

    German authorities are also investigating possible clues about illegal nuclear smuggling on German territory. “As well as all other theories as to the background of this crime, we are also taking seriously the possibility that Litvinenko’s death could be connected to nuclear smuggling,” a security official told the German daily Berliner Zeitung in its Wednesday edition. He admitted there wasn’t any “really watertight evidence” yet, but he said secret service officials were not ruling out the possibility that polonium was smuggled via Germany to London in order to be sold there.,1518,454259,00.html

  9. AJStrata says:


    The agreement included a restriction on Lugovoi to not divulge the details of the investigation. Now it sounds just like a plea agreement in one form or the other. Are you saying it cannot be one – absolutely?

  10. AJStrata says:


    One thing you need to know about Berezovsky is he was scientifically trained and sat on Russia\’s version of their National Security Council. He knows physics and chemistry enough to understand nuclear weapons.

  11. clarice says:

    AJ-It sounds to me like you made a Barishnikov like leap on that. It is far more likely that the Russians wish to control the investigation on their soil and any information about it. (Happens every day with US grand juries.)

  12. likbez says:

    I think that unlike Litvinenko convertion to Islam on his deathbed, the convertion between “dirty bomb” conspiracy theorists and “Hand of Kremlin” consipiracy theorists is impossible 🙂

  13. clarice says:

    Aj, Berezovsky is very smart and very, very rich. Which is another reason to believe he’d never be involved in smuggling PO.

  14. Barbara says:


    People who want power badly enough will stop at nothing. Bereszovsky has said numerous times that he wants that power.