Wednesday, February 23, 2005

On the nuclear terrorism question, President Bush campaigned on the policy that invading Iraq prevented the possibility of Saddam passing along nuclear material (which he didn't have) to potential terrorists, while Sen. Kerry emphasized the danger of insufficient security protecting existing stockpiles of nuclear materials.

Arms Control Wonk has a post on the recently issued update (November 2004) to the Annual Report to Congress on the Safety and Security of Russian Nuclear Facilities and Military Forces. The report is from the National Intelligence Council and it states that:
The 2004 edition repeats the judgment made in 2002 “undetected smuggling [weapons-grade and weapons-usable nuclear materials] has occurred, although we do not know the extent or magnitude of such thefts” and again expressed concern about the total amount of material that could have been diverted.
The report goes on to state that they know enough material is missing to create a nuclear device. The post should be read in full.

A terrorist cell will not wait for a sympathetic state to develop and provide nuclear material when such material may be available through the black market. Non-proliferation and the protection of existing sources should be at the top of the security list for this administration, yet there is little debate over practical non-proliferation policy besides threatening military action. This might prevent states from attempting to develop nuclear weapons, but it is of no use in dealing with independent groups who could obtain smuggled material.

- Murphy

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