Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Even Small Terrorist Nuclear Explosion Would Be BIG Success States Homeland Security Scientist

So, which of these buttons causes a scram?
Despite the false assurances of the NRC, our federal government is serious concerned about the real possibility of a successful terrorist explosion of even a TINY nuclear device within America's border. A Homeland Security scientist has stated that even a small explosion of such a device would be a HUGE SUCCESS within the terrorist community. The scientist is thinking something along the lines of a 100 ton explosion would be monumental, though a much smaller explosion that the nuclear bombs unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Even more disturbing in the article is Clyde Layne's contention that terrorist could easily figure out how to explode the weapon if they can get their hands on the materials...as in radioactive materials. A 100 ton bomb would be equal too, or greater than some of the largest traditional bombs ever exploded, and the knowledge to explode one is EASILY found on the internet.

So, with Homeland Security flat out admitting this reality, why is the NRC trying to mitigate the risks posed by poorly guarded and defended commercial reactor sites such as Entergy's failing Indian Point? Could it be MONEY? Even more puzzling...why hasn't any one discussed what would happen if one of these NUCLEAR DEVICES were to be exploded in front of the gates of Indian Point, or on the dock abot 300 yards from the reactors?

Even Tiny Nuclear Explosion Could Be Terrorist “Success,” Homeland Security Scientist Says

By Jon Fox
Global Security Newswire


MIAMI — A nuclear device assembled by terrorists is likely to have a “relatively low yield,” much smaller than the 10-kiloton weapon dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II, the chief nuclear scientist with the U.S. Homeland Security Department said yesterday (see GSN, May 11)

Nevertheless, even a small nuclear explosion would probably be viewed as a “success” by any nonstate actor, Clyde Layne said during the first day of a weeklong nuclear terrorism conference here.

“I would have to think that a 100-ton nuclear explosion would be a real success for al-Qaeda or whoever chose to attack us that way,” he said.

Such a blast would be on the order of some of the largest conventional explosions ever set off and might not even bear the huge, tell-tale mushroom cloud. It would nevertheless release the radiation associated with fission, said Layne, who works with the DHS intelligence office (see GSN, Feb. 23).

Producing fissile material, either the plutonium or highly enriched uranium that would fuel any improvised nuclear device, remains out of the reach of even a sophisticated terrorist group, he said. “Essentially the nonstate actors will need to buy or steal that material, and that is the main focus of our activities to combat nuclear terrorism.”

A terrorist group with enough plutonium or uranium for a weapon could acquire the scientific and mechanical know-how to build the bomb, Layne said.

“It is something that’s doable with reasonable machine shops and casting facilities,” Layne said. “It’s not trivial but, as the intelligence community has said, it’s not an insurmountable task.”

There is enough information on the Internet to piece together a workable nuclear weapon design, Layne said, describing the posted designs as “all over the map.”

“Some of them are ridiculous. Some of them have some things right,” he said.

Given the technical difficulties involved, however, a device crafted in a machine shop without the testing available to nuclear weapon states is likely to produce a much smaller detonation than even the first atomic weapons.

“A successful terrorist nuclear device might be relatively low yield. There’s no way to speculate what that yield would be,” Layne said. “There could even be instances where first responders are aware there’s been a very large explosion, but they didn’t see the whole mushroom cloud and devastation that you’d expect from a 10-kiloton device.”

Arriving at the scene, emergency personal would encounter radiation, but it is possible they would be unable to immediately determine if it was a nuclear explosion or a very large “dirty bomb” radiological dispersal device.

A number of terrorist groups have the capabilities to produce a crude radiological weapon, which would combine conventional explosives with radioactive material, Layne said. Given the relative ease of creating a dirty bomb, the fact that one has never been set off is slightly puzzling, he said.

“The RDD seems to be fairly simple, so why haven’t we seen some of these?” Layne said.

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