Nuke terror fears raised
by massive smuggling ops
662 confirmed cases worldwide, while GAO
showed how to bring them across border

Posted: August 11, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2006

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kyl, chairman of the Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security Subcommittee, is suggesting it's time for a "Manhattan Project" commitment by the U.S. to prevent nuclear terrorism, confirming "there have been plenty of efforts by terrorists and smugglers to acquire nuclear materials."

Pointing out that terrorists would need no more that nine pounds of plutonium or 35 pounds of highly-enriched uranium to create a nuclear explosion, Kyl headed a hearing with top government experts on the prospects of detection and prevention of the feared nuke attack on the U.S.

"A trained nuclear engineer – and there are plenty of them looking for work worldwide – could use this small chunk of material to create a nuclear device that would fit into a van or small watercraft," said Kyl.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency between 1993 and 2004, there were 662 confirmed cases of smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials.

"And those were just the instances that we know about," said Kyl. "Of those confirmed cases, 21 involved materials that could be used to produce a nuclear weapon, and over 400 involved materials that could be used to make a dirty bomb."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the U.S. is not immune from an attack with so much loose nuclear material around. She pointed out a recent Government Accountability Office undercover operation proved that nuclear materials could be smuggled into the United States.

"GAO actually shipped here to Washington enough nuclear materials to build two dirty bombs through our northern border and, again, through our southern border," she said. "Clearly, there is more that must be done, and clearly, we still have problems on both our northern and southern borders. We've got to put in place an integrated system that provides our citizens with maximum protection against nuclear smuggling, and do it in a way that is both efficient and cost-effective."

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