A message is being shared widely on social media with a claim that ‘Red Mercury’, a chemical which is used to manufacture nuclear weapons, can be found in old televisions and radios. Let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.
Claim: ‘Red Mercury’ can be found in old radios and televisions.
Fact: ‘Red Mercury’ is a myth. In 2002 itself, an American official has said that there is no such thing as ‘Red Mercury’. He also said that some terrorist groups have tried to acquire the mythical ‘Red Mercury’ and have fallen prey to scams. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
When searched about ‘Red Mercury’ on the internet, a website link of ‘U.S. Department of State’ was found in the search results. On the website, the transcript of the speech given by John R. Bolton, then Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, at ‘International Approaches to Nuclear and Radiological Security Conference’ – London in 2002 was found. In his speech, Bolton said that there is no such thing as ‘Red Mercury’. He also said that some terrorist groups have tried to acquire the mythical ‘Red Mercury’ and have fallen prey to scams.
The ‘BBC’ and ‘The New York Times’ have also published articles saying that the ‘Red Mercury’ is a myth. Those articles can be read here and here. In the ‘BBC’ article, it can be read that there is no chemical such as ‘Red Mercury’ but there is a red-coloured mercury-containing the ore – ‘Mercury Sulphide’. It is harmful ‘not because it’s highly explosive, but rather because plain old mercury is hazardous to human health’
In old televisions and other electronics, there is some content of mercury and other harmful chemicals but there is no trace of ‘Red Mercury’ (at least nobody found it till today). Also, there are various instances in the past where police arrested scammers who tried to dupe people by selling them the non-existent ‘Red Mercury’. Further information regarding those incidents can be found here, here and here. In 2009, a similar hoax went viral in Saudi Arabia that ‘Red Mercury’ can be found in old sewing machines.
To sum it up, ‘Red Mercury’ in itself is a myth. It cannot be found in old televisions and radios.
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