Are we ignoring the most serious threat?

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Mariner, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    This month's Scientific American has a good article by a pair of Princeton physicists concerning "HEU," highly enriched uranium.

    25 kg (55 pounds) of HEU is enough to build a nuclear bomb. HEU's found in 140 civilian facilities--often poorly guarded--around the world. Khazakstan and Uzbekistan have between 100 and 1000 kg each, while Russia has over 10,000 kg. Russian nuclear scientists, often unpaid or underpaid, have already been caught stealing--no one knows how much HEU is missing.

    HEU is hardly necessary to nuclear power or research any more. New technology permits replacing it with LEU. As the article points out, however, we have been agonizingly slow to assist the world with this transition. The FY 2005 Bush budget for this activity was $70 million. At this rate, it will be 2014 and 2020 before various goals in the conversion and safety process are completed.

    Consider the vast expense--tens of billions of dollars--of the Bush/Reagan Star Wars plan, which, even if it worked (which is highly questionable), would defend us only against ICBMs. This defends us from the few places able to launch ICBMs. It seems much more likely to me that we'll be the victim of a bomb made from a few kilograms of HEU. The authors suggest that terrorists could simply smuggle a few kilograms of HEU into a building, improvise a gun-type detonation device of the type used in Hiroshima bomb, and blow a U.S. city to smithereens.

    We can't blame only the Russians. We ourselves gave HEU technology to countries around the world during the cold war. We owe it to ourselves to clean it all up now. Shouldn't we spend a few billion dollars and end this risk--which is perhaps the gravest risk we face? Why, after 9/11 showed that we're vulnerable, are we dawdling?

    Mariner.
     
  2. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    No.
     
  3. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    it's impossible that terrorists could acquire 25kg of highly enriched uranium, so we needn't speed up the process of diluting it... it's just fine if we stretch that out for another decade or more? Why? Doesn't it make more sense to make every effort to secure it and dilute it to where it can't be made into a weapon? The costs would hardly be exorbitant. A week's worth of Iraq expenditures would safeguard most of it permanently. Sounds like a smart deal to me.

    Mariner.
     
  4. archangel
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    the bad guys already have a few suitcase nukes...I think our government is more concerned about locating these! :huh:
     
  5. manu1959
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    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

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    if you had these wouldn't you have used them by now
     
  6. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    9/11 took a decade of planning just to knock down two buildings and damage a third, and it didn't even go completely as planned. I imagine they'd want to put the same kind of planning into both sneaking in the nukes and maximizing their effects, or even more so thanks to homeland security. Something as rare as a suitcase nuke isn't going to be something they just blow up at the first possible opportunity.
     
  7. manu1959
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    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

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    i would have used it by now
     
  8. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    We are so vulnerable to attack it's pathetic. The people against securing our borders obviously have forgotten the first rule of freedom ... you have to be alive to enjoy it.
     
  9. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    I need you, to label Hobbit and Archangel "defeatist" for thinking that since it's possible that enough uranium has already been stolen to make a bomb, we shouldn't bother safeguarding the rest.

    The Scientific American article showed a picture of a civilian site secured with a single barbed wire fence, rusted and bent enough that one could crawl right through it. We want to leave nuclear material in the open like that? Why? Finish the job by 2020? Why? Kerry pressed Bush on this in the '04 debates, and he promised to act, but he has not: he raised funding for this program last year a feeble 25%.

    I agree, GunnyL, we're pathetically vulnerable. The big oceans protected this country for so long that there's an ongoing feeling we're somehow invulnerable.

    Mariner.
     
  10. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Well, that’s not what I said, is it. This is MUCH more complex that just diluting stock, and it’s NOT being ignored.
    Here are two very interesting (LONG) examples.

    In the end it seems more security and international cooperation are the key issues faced by the world, not just the USA.

    http://www.nti.org/e_research/cnwm/reducing/heudispose.asp

    http://www.nti.org/e_research/cnwm/overview/path.asp
     

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