A high-ranking Russian security officer warns that terrorists are stepping up efforts to obtain nuclear materials that could be fashioned into a radiation-spewing “dirty bomb.”
Speaking at an international conference of security experts in Khabarovsk, Russia, Militia Colonel General Andrey Novikov disclosed that authorities in dozens of states had detected increased activities on the part of militants seeking access to weapons of mass destruction.
He told the conference: “In 2005 alone, Western special services prevented 16 attempts at contraband smuggling of plutonium and uranium.”
Referring to International Atomic Energy Agency data from recent years, he stressed that “since 2002, in Europe, the number of acts of contraband smuggling of radioactive materials, suitable for the manufacture of a ‘dirty bomb,’ has doubled.”
Novikov said the “creeping away” of radioactive materials from unmonitored facilities in a number of countries is creating an opportunity for terrorist acts, according to a published report.
He cited “idle uranium mines and abandoned enterprises” that had used radioactive materials, as well as medical and scientific establishments, as potential sources of materials for terrorists.
At the conference, Novikov warned: “Without a doubt, the terrorists will also search for access to technologies for the manufacture of a ‘simplified nuclear weapon.’ A chain reaction in such a bomb is not possible, but its use will lead to the contamination of a locality with radiation.
“In a number of cases, its intensity will not be high enough to have a significant effect on the health of people, but the very use of such a device and the threat of the dispersion of radiation can cause fear and panic among the population.”
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