[Homestead] The nuclear bomb in your neighborhood

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Sun Sep 19 13:58:48 EDT 2004

It's easier than you think to make and plant one---and 
needle-in-the-haystack to detect in time. The political drivel about gay 
marriages and flag desecration will make a nuclear or biological attack 
not only possible, but inevitable---thank you George Bush, you are such 
a wonderful guardian of our security. Kerry may be no better, but 
certainly couldn't be worse.

latimes.com <http://www.latimes.com/>

  Preventable Nightmare

    Al Qaeda wants to nuke a U.S. city. There are simple ways to stop it.

By Graham Allison
Graham Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and 
International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of 
Government. His new book is "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable

September 19, 2004

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In October 2001, a top-secret team was dispatched to 
New York City to search for a nuclear bomb. According to a CIA agent 
code-named Dragonfire, Al Qaeda had gotten hold of a nuclear weapon 
produced by the former Soviet Union and had successfully smuggled it 
into the city. Under a cloak of secrecy that excluded even Mayor Rudolph 
Giuliani, the Nuclear Emergency Search Team, or NEST, began a hunt for 
the 10-kiloton bomb whose Hiroshima-sized blast could have obliterated a 
significant portion of Manhattan.

NEST is a SWAT team of "nuclear ninjas." When mobilized, members drop 
their day jobs as physicists, engineers and explosives experts to search 
for and dismantle weapons before they explode into mushroom clouds. 
Often undercover, a "sports fan" may hide his sophisticated 
radiation-detection equipment in a golf bag, a "businesswoman" in her 
attache case. If a nuclear device is found, teams compare it with NEST's 
catalog of existing designs and possible home-made bombs for clues about 
how to disarm it. But, as one member of the teams has conceded, even 
locating a nuclear device amid background radiation is like "looking for 
a needle in a haystack of needles."

As NEST teams scoured New York City, Vice President Dick Cheney left 
Washington for a secret underground site, later disclosed to be on the 
Maryland-Pennsylvania border. President Bush was concerned that Al Qaeda 
might have smuggled a nuclear weapon into the capital as well. Several 
hundred federal employees joined the vice president in his bunker for 
many weeks, preparing an alternative government should a nuclear 
explosion wipe out Washington.

The suspected nuclear device in New York City was never found. But the 
threat was credible for good reasons. Did former Soviet stockpiles 
include a large number of 10-kiloton weapons? Yes. Could the Russian 
government account for all its nuclear bombs? No. Could Al Qaeda have 
acquired one? Yes. Could it have smuggled a nuclear weapon through 
border controls and into a U.S. city? Yes. In a moment of gallows humor, 
one official quipped that terrorists could have wrapped a bomb in one of 
the bales of marijuana routinely smuggled into cities like New York and 
Los Angeles.

In the weeks and months following Sept. 11, the U.S. national security 
community was waiting for the second shoe to drop. In the 1990s, when I 
served as an assistant secretary of Defense, I prepared a highly 
classified memorandum on possible terrorist attacks, ranked in terms of 
potential damage to the United States, titled "A Hundred Horribles." An 
attack by a hijacked aircraft on trophy buildings fell in the lower half 
of the list. First place on everyone's list was the detonation of a 
nuclear bomb in a U.S. city. Only a nuclear explosion can kill hundreds 
of thousands of people instantly.

The factors that made Dragonfire's report plausible in October 2001 are 
even more acute today. Osama bin Laden has declared the production of 
nuclear weapons "a religious duty." Though New York City is regarded as 
the most likely target, it is clear that Al Qaeda is not only capable 
but also interested in mounting attacks on other U.S. cities, where 
residents may be less prepared.

Imagine the consequences of a 10-kiloton weapon exploding in Los 
Angeles. From the epicenter of the blast to a distance of approximately 
one-third mile, every structure and individual would vanish 
instantaneously. A bomb exploded at the intersection of Hollywood 
Boulevard and Highland Avenue would vaporize the historic Mann's Chinese 
Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Buildings three-quarters of a 
mile from ground zero, like the Pantages Theater (the former home of the 
Academy Awards show), would look like the Murrah Federal Office Building 
in Oklahoma City after it was destroyed in 1995 by a massive bomb hidden 
inside a rental truck. The fires and radiation of the blast's outer 
circle would erase the sign in the Hollywood Hills.

Soil incorporated into the fireball would be made radioactive and would 
return to Earth as radioactive fallout. This fallout would emit gamma, 
alpha and beta radiation, but the effect on nearby cities would be 
determined by environmental conditions, weather patterns, rain, wind, 
terrain, etc.

Where could Al Qaeda obtain a nuclear bomb? Russia is the most likely 
source in Bin Laden's quest for nuclear weapons. Russia's 12-time-zone 
expanse contains more nuclear weapons and materials than any country in 
the world, including 8,600 assembled warheads and enough weapons-usable 
material for 80,000 more, much of it vulnerable to theft.

Pakistan ranks a close second as a potential source.

When I interviewed Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, earlier 
this year, he claimed that within his army "even one bolt of a rifle 
cannot be lost."

But as we now know, the father of Pakistan's atomic program, Abdul 
Qadeer Khan, was the kingpin of a black market in nuclear technology, 
fissile material and technical assistance stretching back more than a 
decade. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has called 
Khan's network a "Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation." And further 
potential suppliers, especially North Korea, cannot be ignored.

The largely unrecognized good news about nuclear terrorism is that it is 
preventable. Unlike bioterrorism, nuclear terrorism is a finite 
challenge manageable with a finite response. The strategic narrows of 
the challenge is preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons or 
the materials from which a bomb could be made. It's a fact of physics: 
no highly enriched uranium or plutonium, no nuclear explosion, no 
nuclear terrorism.

It is that simple.

A serious campaign to prevent nuclear terrorism can be organized under a 
new doctrine of "three no's." The first strand of the strategy — "no 
loose nukes" — requires securing all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable 
material, on the fastest possible timetable, to a new gold standard. 
Equally the security of gold at Ft. Knox. "No new nascent nukes" means 
no new national capabilities to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium. 
The third no — "no new nuclear weapons states" — draws a bright line 
under the current recognized nuclear powers and says unambiguously, "no 

Al Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith has stated Al Qaeda's objective: 
"to kill 4 million Americans — 2 million of them children — and to exile 
twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands."

Nearly 3,000 died in the Sept. 11 attacks. It would take about 1,334 
similar assaults to reach 4 million. Or it could take one nuclear weapon.

Al Qaeda has made its intentions clear. America's challenge is to 
prevent the terrorists from succeeding.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at 
latimes.com/archives <http://www.latimes.com/archives>.
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Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

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