US diplomatic dispatches reveal constant efforts to prevent terrorist nuclear attacks
US cables leaked by WikiLeaks reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack.
The cables tell hair-raising tales of casks of uranium found in wicker baskets in Burundi, a retired Russian general offering to sell “uranium plates” in Portugal, and a radioactive Armenian car on the Georgian border.
As part of what the US government calls its “second line of defence”, America’s diplomatic corps is called out in the middle of the night when radiation detectors go off on a border crossing or smugglers turn up with fissile or radioactive materials.
Each time that happens - and United Nations data suggests it has happened about 500 times in the past 15 years - it means the “first line of defence” has already been breached. The fissile material (fuel for a nuclear warhead) or radioactive isotopes (which emit harmful radiation), have already been stolen from their source.
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