A scientist and his wife who both once worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory were arrested Friday after an FBI sting operation and charged with conspiring to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela.
After their arrest, the two appeared in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M. They were accused of dealing with an FBI undercover agent posing as a Venezuelan agent. The government did not allege that Venezuela or anyone working for it sought U.S. secrets.
Accused in a 22-count indictment are Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 75, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, and Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, 67, a U.S. citizen. Both were formerly contract employees at Los Alamos.
According to the indictment, Pedro Mascheroni told an undercover agent he could help Venezuela develop a nuclear bomb within 10 years and that under his program, Venezuela would use a secret, underground nuclear reactor to produce and enrich plutonium, and an open, aboveground reactor to produce nuclear energy.
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