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You have been sent this message from Bert Gedin
( as a courtesy of ([1]).
Dear Felicity & All, This doesn't, directly, answer 'Looking for a quote'. But
maybe a few clues? Greetings, Bert.
To view the entire article, visit[2]
Saturday, March 9, 2002
Searching for loose nukes
By Gordon Prather
Posted: March 9, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern

According to this week's Time magazine, "a mercurial agent code-named
dragonfire" told his handlers last October that terrorists had somehow
acquired a low-yield (10 kiloton) Russian nuke. Furthermore, "dragonfire"
claimed that the terrorists planned to smuggle it into New York City and
detonate it. Hillary Clinton has just found out about it, and she's furious.

So she sat down and wrote President Bush:

"Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, officials from the New York
Police Department and senior members of the FBI reportedly were not notified
about the intelligence, even though the effects of such an explosion would be
catastrophic for the entire New York metropolitan region."

Sen. Clinton demanded to know, "Who made the decision not to inform any New
York authorities about the report of a possible nuclear strike on New York
City? On what basis was that decision made?"

Well, the real question is why anyone in the White House bothered to take any
action at all about such a specific, easily refuted claim. When the Russians
were contacted and asked if one of their nukes had gone missing, their Gen.
Igor Valynkin reportedly replied that anyone claiming that the Russian Defense
Ministry had lost an intact warhead is "barking mad."

In Russia, as in the United States, there is a civilian-military division of
responsibility for nukes. Minatom  the Russian equivalent of our Department
of Energy  designs, tests and produces nukes for the Russian Defense
Ministry. The claim that the Russian Defense Ministry doesn't know whether or
not one of their nukes is missing is akin to the Pentagon not knowing whether
one of our nukes is missing.

But the folks inside the Beltway that don't want the end of the Cold War to
impede their march on Moscow would never take a Russian's word "at face
value." They pointed to the 1997 testimony of former Soviet Gen. Alexander
Lebed before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military R Lebed claimed
that in the early 1990s  when he was security adviser to President Yeltsin 
he had been asked to locate 132 Soviet small nuclear demolition weapons, each
having a yield of 1 to 10 kilotons. Lebed testified that he was only able to
locate 48 of those nukes.

According to Lebed, the Russian "footlocker-size" demolition nukes were
similar to ours. Lebed speculated that some of those "missing" nukes might
have been "up for sale to rogue nations or terrorists." He said it was even
conceivable that some of these "missing" demolition nukes might have been
"pre-positioned" by the Soviets in secret underground "caches" in Europe and
in the United States, for use by Soviet saboteurs in the event the Cold War
got hot.

Now there's a Russian whose words the folks inside the Beltway can take at
face value.

Alarmed, Committee Chairman Weldon immediately went to Russia, himself, to
check out Lebed's story. Weldon was assured by Russian Defense Minister
Sergeyev that no Soviet nukes were missing. Furthermore, Sergeyev pledged that
by the year 2000, all Soviet demolition nukes  which were similar to ours, it
turns out  would be dismantled, as ours already had been.

Now comes mercurial agent "dragonfire" with his claim that the terrorists have
got a Russian demolition nuke. What to do? Well, in order to cover the
National Security Council's donkey, the Energy Department's Nuclear Emergency
Search Team was directed to go to New York and start looking for a loose
Russian nuke.

How could NEST be expected to find such a needle in Manhattan? Well, in this
case, the needle would be slightly  but characteristically  radioactive.

The NEST method of detection varies, depending upon what they are looking for.
For nukes, how they search is closely held information. But, to give you an
idea, in order to be as small as a footlocker, the alleged Russian loose nuke
would have to be sophisticated. It would contain several kilograms of
plutonium. Although almost pure isotope Pu-239, there would be a percent or so
of isotope Pu-241, which decays to americium, which emits a characteristic
gamma-ray, which NEST could perhaps detect if it got close enough.

NEST searched and searched but didn't find a Russian loose nuke in Manhattan.

The FBI is ordinarily in charge of such domestic NEST operations, but since
this appears to have basically been a cover-your-donkey search, the FBI was
not even notified. And of course, no one notified Sen. Clinton.

That's really why she's furious. No one kept such things from her when she was



Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official
for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency,
the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy,
the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr.
Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to
U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget
Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations
Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National
Laboratory in New Mexico.


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