[lit-ideas] Re: Al Quaeda and Suitcase Nukes

  • From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 15:10:25 -0500

Here's an interesting inconsistency, probably indicating a conflation of classified information and open-source information. Remember that SADMs were supposed to be fired by a recoilless rifle. Now read to the bottom, where the SADMS are said to be capable of being carried in a backpack.


In his new book Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, Graham Allison reveals that exactly one month after the 9/11 attacks the White House received credible intelligence reports to the effect that Al Qaeda terrorists had secreted a ten-kiloton nuclear weapon, apparently stolen from the Soviet arsenal, in Manhattan. That was only slightly smaller that the bomb which had destroyed Hiroshima over a half century earlier. The twin threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism which had long been gathering had finally merged into a potential nightmare on American shores.

Allison is a Harvard professor, former Defense Department advisor, and author of numerous works dealing with nuclear issues including the 1971 volume Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. In a series of chilling chapters, his most recent book surveys the state of the terrorist nuclear threat today: what weapons terrorists might use, how they could acquire and deliver them to an American target, and how much damage they might do.

In May 1997 General Alexander Lebed, Boris Yeltsin’s national security advisor informed members of Congress that the Russian government had lost track of eighty-four suitcase sized nuclear weapons each with a yield of one-kiloton. Four months later he told the television show “Sixty Minutes” that over one hundred of these weapons could not be accounted for. His claim has been controversial ever since and has never been satisfactorily resolved. Some have questioned whether the Soviets ever developed such weapons, but Allison contends that they almost certainly did. The United States itself, he explains, had in its arsenal a number of Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADMs), each of which could be carried in a backpack. If any such Soviet weapons are loose, it is at least possible that one or more of them have fallen into the hands of terrorists.


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