Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Terrorist nuclear attack more likely than not in next decade: "A nuclear terrorist attack is] more likely than not -- so greater than 51 percent -- in the next decade if we just keep doing what we’re doing today.... The number of ways to get something into San Francisco or Boston or New Orleans is almost unlimited.... [Enriching uranium] is beyond the competence of any terrorist group, and no terrorist is going to be successful in producing highly enriched uranium or plutonium. That’s the good news. On the other hand, if a terrorist gets a hundred pounds of highly enriched uranium, then making a homemade nuclear bomb is relatively straightforward. The design for that bomb is the design that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, which was very simple -- so simple that it was never tested. That design has been public information now for 30 years, so you can go find it on the Internet in a 10-minute search. If they were successful in getting a hundred pounds of highly enriched uranium, which is smaller than a football, they would buy electronics and industrial material -- all available off the shelf in American stores and in the commercial market -- and use this basic Hiroshima design. That could make a homemade nuclear bomb that would fit in a back of a van."

"The most material and weapons that are stored in conditions vulnerable to theft are in Russia, and in the two years after 9/11, we secured fewer weapons than in the two years before.... For whatever combination of reasons, the Bush administration has not given high priority to this whole set of tasks. The fact is that if you look at their behavior, it’s not behavior that’s consistent with feeling that this an urgent, imminent threat.... after 9/11, when you would have thought that we would see a great acceleration of this activity, fewer potential nuclear weapons in Russia were secured than in the two years before 9/11. That seems just crazy, but that’s a fact."

"We spend $550 billion, approximately, on our whole national security effort: defense, homeland security, intelligence, the war in Iraq. We spend about $10 billion on missile defense this year and we’re spending about $1 billion on this activity. So, if this is, as President Bush says, the greatest threat our country faces, the fact that we’re spending a very small percent of one percent of the total effort would seem out of proportion."

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