NBC Weapons: May 15, 2001


The UN International Atomic Agency says that attempts to smuggle nuclear material across international borders continue to increase. Most of the nuclear material caught is not weapons grade. But since 1993, there have been fifteen instances of smugglers caught with weapons grade uranium or plutonium. In the first three months of 2001, there were 20 cases of nuclear material being smuggled (most of it not weapons grade). Thefts of such material were reported in Romania, South Africa, Mexico and Germany. Since the end of the Cold War, and the dismantling of over 20,000 nuclear weapons, there is 6.5 million pounds of nuclear material sitting around. The stuff cannot be destroyed and remains radioactive for thousands of years. Several terrorist organizations and nations are known to be in the market for nuclear material, and don't care what the source is. Criminal organizations are active in trying to develop the trade. Only an enormous amount of police and intelligence work prevents a more active illegal trade in nuclear material. 


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