NBC Weapons: The War On Radioactive Material




April 3, 2012: The world has to guard against theft or poor security for 1,475 tons of weapons grade uranium and 485 tons of plutonium that still exists. Less than 500 gm (a pound) of radioactive material is adequate for a terrorists to build a “dirty bomb” (that just spreads radioactive material around), while 2-3 kg (4.4-6.6 pounds) is enough for a nuclear bomb.

Terrorists going nuclear remains a nightmarish scenario, especially with experts warning that the global stock of fissile (useable for a nuclear bomb) material is enough to make over 126,000 nuclear weapons. This issue was at the core of discussions at the second Nuclear Security Summit (March 26-27, 2012) in Seoul. Leaders of 49 countries, who participated in the event, decided to adopt measures to enhance the management of highly enriched uranium, radiological security, and transport security. They also agreed to combat illicit trafficking and ensure security of sensitive information by increasing international cooperation.

There were also efforts to increase cooperation between nuclear safety and nuclear security operations. The Seoul Summit gives greater oversight role and responsibility for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which has long been restricted by political problems.

The leaders urged all States to observe special precautions storing and tracking bomb grade material. Incidentally, Pakistan, which needs to implement all these decisions in letter and spirit, also attended the Seoul summit. – Rajeev Sharma



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