And just to think where the world is at now after this 2008 article. The effects of Russian nuclear blackmail have continued for decades now.
Non-proliferation efforts are dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the task at hand.
Since the Cold War, the United Nations has logged more than 800 incidents in which nuclear material has disappeared, the Guardian says. The former Soviet storage sites where radioactive material—often large quantities of it—are stored are often dilapidated and poorly secured. Millions of U.S. dollars pouring in notwithstanding, many sites still remain vulnerable to burglary or assault from advanced and not-so-advanced thieves who know how to get a nuclear bomb.
In fact, multiple cases have been reported where small-time peddlers with no connections to the government, spies, or even organized crime have tried to sell small amounts of weapons-grade uranium on the black market. According to Lawrence Sheets’s in-depth nuclear smuggling piece for the Atlantic, one of the best places to find small-timers playing fast and loose with megadeath sealed inside plastic sandwich bags is the wild, wild south: Georgia’s South Ossetia, the current stomping grounds of the Red Army.
One major significance of the loose and vulnerable state of Russia’s approximately 500 tons of weapons-grade uranium is that Washington is far more desperate to secure it than Moscow. This gives Vladimir Putin plenty of leverage in power politics. The final destination for highly enriched uranium—stolen from an old Soviet facility, inserted into a crude bomb, smuggled to its target and finally detonated—is much less likely to be the Kremlin than it is to be the White House. Russia can squeeze the U.S. on a variety of contentious issues by decreasing its already grudging cooperation with American nuclear experts.
The other major significance of loose nukes is that your city could be incinerated. For much more on this subject, check Sheets’s reporting here and here*, and read “Playing Fast and Loose With Megadeath.”
For the ultimate meaning of—and the ultimate hope for—our nuclear-endangered world, read the booklet “We Have Had Our Last Chance”. ▪
Full article: Nuclear Proliferation Has Passed the Point of No Return (The Trumpet)
Edit: One outdated/defunct link has been re-linked through the Wayback Machine website, as indicated by an orange asterik (*).