PRAGUE - I am in Hradcany Square waiting for President Obama to speak to a crowd of several thousand Czech’s in a massive square about the threat of nuclear weapons and his plan to reduce the number of such weapons around the world.
One of the best pieces I’ve ever read on proliferation was by William Langewiesche in December 2006. Here’s a taste, or you can read the whole thing here:
“If you were a terrorist and a bomb was your goal, how would you go about getting one? You could not bet on acquiring an existing weapon. These are held as critical national assets in fortified facilities guarded by elite troops, and they would be extremely difficult to get at, or to buy. Reports have suggested the contrary, particularly because of rumors about the penetration of organized crime into the Russian nuclear forces, and about portable satchel nukes, or “suitcase bombs,” which are said to have been built for the KGB in the late 1970s and 1980s, and then lost into the black market following the Soviet breakup. However, the existence of suitcase bombs has never been proved, and there has never been a single verified case, anywhere, of the theft of any sort of nuclear weapon. Thefts may nonetheless have occurred, but nuclear weapons require regular maintenance, and any still lingering on the market would likely have become duds. Conversely, because these time limitations are well known, the very lack of a terrorist nuclear strike thus far tends to indicate that nothing useful was ever stolen. Either way, even if the seller could provide a functioning device, nuclear weapons in Russia and other advanced states have sophisticated electronic locks that would defeat almost any attempt to trigger them. Of course you could look to countries where less rigorous safeguards are in place, but no government handles its nuclear arsenal loosely, or would dare to create the impression that it is using surrogates to fight its nuclear wars. Even the military leaders of Pakistan, who have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sell this technology, would balk at allowing a constructed device to escape—if only because of the certainty that this time they would be held to account. The same concerns would almost certainly restrain North Korea. All this should give you pause long enough to take bearings.”
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times
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