A Loyal Reader sent the following comment in response to “this post”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1409/nuclear-terrrorism about nuclear terrorism. I thought it worth highlighting, so here it is in full:
I’d say that if the potential for nuclear terrorism is to be taken seriously, then yes, it mainly adds urgency to a number of things we should already be doing urgently. At least in a rational world — I seem to recall that Rumsfeld and Rice both made very dismissive comments about the need to resource Nunn-Lugar programs early in the administration. Ghastly.
If there is an exception to the “merely adds urgency” rule of thumb, it probably isn’t detection, though. Anyone capable of building a nuclear device, or who knows what they are doing, is going to shield their material and/or device adequately, assuming it needs shielding in the first place to evade detection. Radiation detection could help with RDDs and the radionuclides that go into them, but the only thing that’s really going to help with a nuke is an x-ray, to spot the lead, tungsten, or DU box around the bomb, or perhaps the unshielded HEU. And you can’t have an x-ray machine going in the Holland Tunnel, I don’t think… Plus which, it’s a little late to catch the nuke at that point.
My own preferred candidate for a nuclear-terrorism inspired policy
decision is attribution R&D.
The last two paragraphs are in response to my claim that:
bq. I’ve always thought that, from a policy perspective, the risk of nuclear terrorism does not make much difference – we should do things like fissile material control, threat reduction, and counter-terrorism anyway. The exception may be for things like nuclear detection programs.
Happy effing Monday.