Tuesday, April 10, 2007

THE DAILY MUSHROOM CLOUD: Beware scholar pimping book

Write more about nuclear attack. Please.

Not a week goes by without someone waving their hands, screaming to inform the polity that it's not a matter of if, but only when a nuclear weapon is going to go off on American soil.

Since your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow has been following the beat, the stories are always the same.

No one is paying enough attention! Pay attention to me because I'm more serious! You can make an atom bomb from plans on the Internet and stuff bought at the hardware store!

Charles Bukowski once said the more crap you believe, the better off you are.

It certainly looks true for those regularly banging the nuclear terror bell.

There never seems to be an editor around with the nerve to say, "Instead of trying to stir up the same boring frights and doing the terrorists' work for them, why don't you just get lost!"

This week's selection is from Helen Caldicott, delivered through United Press International's "Outside View" column.

In actuality, there's nothing "outside" about the column. It's just more of the same.

Caldicott's column is used to pimp a book, "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer," published in 2006. The essay is an extract from it.

Now let us proceed to the usual brainless and oft-repeated memes, passed off as gnomic observations.

"With sophisticated technology the minimum amount of plutonium required to make a bomb is 1 to 3 kilograms (2.2 to 6.6 pounds), however the generally accepted amount is 5 kg (11 pounds) of weapons-grade plutonium and 8 kg (17.6 pounds) for reactor-grade plutonium," writes Caldicott.

"The design is available on the Internet; the essential materials can be bought at any hardware store. A homemade plutonium bomb would be difficult to make but a bomb using highly-enriched uranium would be less so. And the world is awash in plutonium."

It's that simple.

"In light of terrorist attacks using conventional weapons, it is only a matter of time before someone steals enough plutonium to make an adequate nuclear weapon. Then we proceed into the age of nuclear terrorism."

Or one might just as well say that in light of the lack of terrorist success with much more common materials than plutonium, like chlorine, in Iraq, there is no reason to believe such people would have any luck trying to make an atomic bomb. Or that comparing terrorist attacks with car and truck bombs to theoretical attacks with nuclear weapons is a bone-headed non sequitur.

The original is here.

Or you just might want to skip it and entertain yourself with some previous installments of The Daily Mushroom Cloud, by what means terrorists go nuclear, and the mythology of nuke cookbooks on the net.


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