< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I don't get it

Saddam had no WMD, but we have seized 1.77 TONS of uranium in Iraq and airlifted it to the US
NY Times: WASHINGTON, July 6 — American officials have seized about 1,000 sources of radioactivity and nearly two tons of low-enriched uranium from an Iraqi nuclear center, and shipped the material to an undisclosed location in this country, the Energy Department announced Tuesday.

None of the materials were usable in a nuclear bomb, but the uranium could have been further enriched to make it useful in a weapon, said Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department.

He also said the radioactive sources could have been mixed with conventional explosives to make a "dirty bomb."

The Defense Department airlifted the material to the United States on June 23, the announcement said.

The material came from Tuwaitha, an important location in Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons development program until it was largely shut down after the Persian Gulf war of 1991.
This next line is especially comforting:
The site was looted by villagers soon after the American invasion of Iraq last year.

Tuwaitha reportedly has hundreds of tons of uranium. . . . consolidated at Tuwaitha from around Iraq by the Defense Department and the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology, according to the Energy Department.

Some of the sources were in powdered form, which would make them easy to use in a dirty bomb, Mr. Wilkes said [Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department].

A dirty bomb or, more formally, a radiological dispersion device, is not likely to give off lethal doses of radiation, according to experts, but could contaminate valuable real estate with low levels of contamination in a way that would require an expensive cleanup or simply make an area unusable.

Speaking of dirty bombs, Victor Davis Hanson is unafraid to broach the subject of the next mass murder in America:
Is our reluctance to discuss the unmentionable because we think we can do nothing in response — as if there is no culpable nation-state, a toothless CIA can tell us little, we dare not upset fragile gains in Iraq, or that violence only spawns violence? In a world in which Hezbollah promises to help out with peddling Fahrenheit 9/11, the Spanish people are led by the nose by al Qaeda, and Americans lose their heads to cheers in Middle East Internet cafes, have we given the fatal impression that we would grunt a few times, flip the channel, and then do nothing after a repeat of September 11?

. . . Both sides should anticipate the consequences should another 3,000 Americans be incinerated at work.