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Nuclear Insecurity Right at Home

Saturday, January 8, 2005; Page A18

"Nuclear Capabilities May Elude Terrorists, Experts Say" [front page, Dec. 29] exaggerated the difficulty a terrorist group would face in creating and detonating a crude nuclear bomb in the United States.

For example, in October 2000, in a security test at a Los Alamos National Laboratory facility, mock "terrorists" gained access to highly enriched uranium within 45 seconds, and they had adequate time (a matter of minutes) to detonate a crude nuclear bomb.

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What if this happened at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with more than 7 million people living within 50 miles ? Or at the Y-12 Oak Ridge, Tenn., facility, which has more than 400 tons of highly enriched uranium stored in 60-year-old, decaying buildings?

A terrorist doesn't have to steal Russian uranium or plutonium, get it out of Russia, fabricate a weapon and get it into the United States. The homeland security vulnerability is already here.


Senior Investigator

Project on Government Oversight


The writer was a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson from 1999 to 2001.

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