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Essay/Term paper: Nuclear strikes

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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Nuclear Strikes

Scientifically, there is no obstacle for a nuclear or atomic bomb. There
are no secrets in Nuclear Science anymore. Anyone with a reasonable physics
degree and access to a good technical library could design a workable atomic
bomb in less than 6 months, so why hasn't anyone. Maybe there has been, no one
is exactly sure. In the last 52 years there has been enough nuclear warheads
made to destroy every city in the world and still have thousands left
over.(Church 40) This all happened during the Cold War, a period of 45 years
(1947-1991), between mainly the two superpowers (United States and the Soviet
Union). Other nations were involved, and 2 wars were fought over it (Korea and
Vietnam) and a nuclear war was almost waged (Cuban Missile Crisis). Now with the
breakup of the Soviet Union into a loose Commonwealth no one is exactly sure who
has all the weapons. Certain nations inherited them, Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Ukraine, and Russia, while others tried stealing them, Iran, Libya, and North
Korea. And since the breakup certain people have been caught stealing the
materials needed to make a bomb. These terrorists have never been caught in the
United States but numerous times in Europe.(www.pbs.org) As a matter of fact,
the Russians say someone stole a bomb simulator, which will explode and make
mushroom cloud but has no nuclear component.(Wilkie) People know that despite
efforts to keep control on the old Soviet stockpile and waste, terrorists are
getting the plutonium and uranium needed to make nuclear weapons to kill masses
of people. This is kind of the history of the nuclear & atomic bomb: (all from
Williams) The first atomic bomb was thought up by Albert
Einstein in the late 30's. In 1942 Enrico Fermi brought about first nuclear
reaction with isotope Uranium 235. From this the Manhattan Project was brought
about and took place in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Then July 16, 1945 near
Alamogordo, New Mexico world's first atomic bomb was set off. Three weeks later
on August 6, 1945 "Little Boy" hit Hiroshima and had the force of 26 million
pounds of TNT. Next on August 9, 1945 "Fat Man" missed it's mark but still
devastated Nagasaki causing an unconditional surrender by the Japanese. Then in
1946 the United Nations tried to outlaw the weapons but the Soviets used their
veto power against it. Finally in 1949 they developed their own weapons. In
1952 the first hydrogen bomb was made with a force of 800 Hiroshima's. In 1953
the Russians did it too (thanks to the Rosenberg's). In 1958 the United States,
Great Britain, and the Soviet Union stopped testing but in 1961 France started.
Then the Cuban Missile Crisis happened. This event was the closest we have ever
come to a nuclear war. This event it really kind of woke the United States and
Soviet Union up about what could happen. Because of this a direct phoneline was
set up between the Kremlin and the white house.

The main question today is who has control of the weapons. The former
superpower Russia is in political turmoil. Now instead of two people with their
hands on the button there could be dozens! Even the Central Intelligence Agency
director John Deutch said he is afraid of loose nukes being smuggled out of
Russia.(McGirk 35) The United States is in pretty good condition because not
much nuclear waste is stolen (they believe) and no missiles ever have been
stolen. But in some countries nuclear technicians haven't been paid in six
months (Russia). Security is breaking down, and waste is leaking out. What is
everyone going to do the next morning after a nuclear terrorist attack.

The four new formed nations of Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Russia
all have nuclear missiles. Although Ukraine and Belarus say they want no part of
them it is not known their real stance.(www.pbs.org) If they don't want them
then where will they go. They will probably send them to third world nations or
terrorist with a lot of money, because they are so poor. One Russian political
columnist Vladlen Sirotikin said, "give me a million bucks, and I'll have a
nuclear tipped missile bought or stolen and delivered anyplace you want." The
Pakistani Interior Minister General N. Babar admits his government has been
approached by smugglers with nuclear shopping lists. In fact one Russian proverb
which I think applies is, "The less you know, the better you

There is 15 nations in the world with nuclear weapons. Besides the
United States other Declared Nuclear weapon states are China, Russia, Great
Britain, France and Kazakhstan. The Undeclared but known nuclear weapon states
are India, Pakistan, Israel, and Bangladesh. The Soviet successor states that
say they are getting rid of the weapons and waste are the Ukraine and Belarus.
There is three countries with active programs and wide spread government
condoned terrorism, Libya, Iran, and North Korea. The scary thing about China
is that they are a declared nuclear weapon state and it is well known that
Beijing is willing to sell nuclear weaponry (along with anything else) to any
state with the cash to pay for it. (www.pbs.org) Another scary thing is about
Iran because they have 10,000 students in our country, and Oliver Revell, the
second highest in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that 300 of the
10,000 who came as students are under a careful watch. Some of the 300 are
members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and their intentions are far from academic.
(McGirk 35)If they have nuclear capabilities, who knows? Plus another suspected
nuclear state, Libya, won't accept American passports. That shows how much they
like us.

What would it be like if one of these countries or terrorists did drop
the bomb? I mean if they don't make one they could just steal one. There is
18,000 warheads compared to 2300 cities throughout the world.(Williams) Maybe
even a crazy American president with followers could start it. In 1973 the
United States signed the War Powers Act in which the president could conduct and
start a nuclear war for 60 days without congressional approval.(Mayers, Teena)
And what if he does, in 1862 Henry Adams said, "Someday science may have the
existence of mankind in it's power and the human race will commit suicide by
blowing up the world."(Mollins) Since the 60's the superpowers were able to
destroy each other over and over. This is called MAD, Mutually Assured

What would it be like at ground zero after the fallout. The three main
effects of the blast is pressure, heat, and radiation. The pressure of the
explosion causes physical damage to anything that happens t be in the way. The
heat of the blast burns everything, even things that aren't supposed to burn.
With the combination of the two can even vaporize people near the epicenter.
Then there is radiation which is just a side effect and can reek havoc for
generations with mutations and cancers etc. It's no wonder that a terrorist
wants this against a certain ethnic group or nationality. Especially Islamic
fundamentalist countries, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Libya as well as Israel and it's
Jewish population.(Andrews)

On November 23, 1994 the United States military completed Operation
Sapphire. This took place in Kazakhstan and the U.S. had to take 600 kilograms
of very highly enriched uranium from the Ulba Metallurgical Plant. That is
enough to build 25 Hiroshima-type bombs. (Sapphire)Iran had been at the base and
was actually on it's way to pick it up when President Clinton approved the
operation and sent Americans on the way with 20 million in cash to buy it and
airlift it back to the United States and brought it to Tennessee.

Terrorists acquire the materials to build the nukes from either the
third world countries, China, or poor, underpaid, overworked, Russian nuclear
power workers who have not been paid in months. There has 14 different occasions
in Germany alone of nuclear smuggling being caught at airports! There has many
incidents involving a base in Obninsk and a man named Leonid Baranov. One such
incident occurred when Baranov recruited Aleksandr Sherbinin to smuggle material
out of Obninsk, roughly 30 miles outside of Moscow, to Prague. Sherbinin was in
Prague for six months trying to sell his material. Finally on December 14, 1994
he was arrested. They found 6 pounds (2.72 kilograms) or weapons grade uranium
in the back seat of his car. That is only enough to build one tenth of a bomb,
but what if he spread it into part of a city. Then it could seep into the water
supply and air conditioning system, contaminate buildings and streets, and drift
invisibly without even an explosion! Baranov is a suspect in two other smuggling
cases in Germany. One such case involves three Spaniards, Justiano Torres
Benitez, Julio Oroz, Javier Bengoechea. They were caught in a German sting with
560 grams of MOX fuel (363 grams of uranium & plutonium). This is a very
controversial case in Germany because they allowed this substance to be let
into Germany. It is also controversial in Russia because the Russians were
notified of the sting and believe that it was a ploy against them because they
international atomic controls implemented against the Russians. Although it is
well known it was stolen by Leonid Baranov and from the Obninsk facility the
Americans and Russians refuse to admit it. There is a way to tell where it is
from by it's radioactive fingerprint but the Russians will not release

The first known theft of nuclear materials was by the Russians against
Leonid Smirnov at a train station in Podolsk. It was 98% enirched uranium 238
with uranium 235. He said quote, " I didn't know what I was doing, I needed
money". He had over 1.5 kilograms of the highly enriched uranium and was going
to just go around knocking on peoples doors trying to sell it. He got it by
taking little by little over five months and no one noticed. His co-workers
didn't suspect anything because he would take it when they were on their smoking
breaks. He was found guilty on March 11, 1993 of stealing and storing
radioactive materials. His sentence was only 3 years of probation but it could
have been up to 10 years in jail. He still lives in the same apartment as he
has for 25 years. (PBS)

On June 14, 1995, a training exercise was carried out at the Kursk
Atomic Power Plant in the summer of 1995, is an event that Russia's security
forces point out to show that they are taking seriously the threat of terrorism
involving nuclear and radioactive materials. In the scenario, terrorists take
the nuclear plant hostage, declaring that they will blow up the reactor if their
demands are not met. Local police, fire, and medical facilities are involved in
the exercise, along with agents of the Federal Security Service and other
federal forces. When negotiations fail, the command team decides to take the
plant by force. A masked SWAT team is assembled, storms the reactor building,
and is able to stop the role playing terrorists. The event was videotaped and
made into a public relations video that the FSB has used to successfully lobby
for the creation of a new Anti Terrorist Task Force. And on an ironic note,
this anti terrorist exercise would have been declared a complete success if
only it didn't happen the very same day Chechen separatists had taken hostage a
hospital full of people in the city of Budyonnovsk, Russia. Let's hope these
attempts work so nuclear terrorists won't get the materials or be able to use

So in conclusion terrorists are able to get the materials required to
make a nuclear weapon or contaminate an area with nuclear waste. A government
official from Pakistan raises a good question when said, "This material is
supposed to be strictly controlled, and if the Russian Mafia or whoever else is
smuggling it out then it is very serious. Many of the things hawked out are
radioactive… There is potential for a terrorist group buying up bits and pieces".
There is growing fear that sooner or later the Irish Republican Army, or another
extremist group could explode a bomb. So if they are getting it from Russia why
isn't there any extra international prevention in the former Soviet Union?
Weapons are being dismantled at an alarming rate. It's good thing to, because
finding a needle in haystack is easier than finding a bomb in an international
city.(Waller 17) There is three main ways they would destroy a terrorists bomb:
1. Use conventional weapons to blow up the bomb without the nuclear aspect
going off. 2. A 30 millimeter cannon blow a nuke to pieces without an explosion.
And 3. Pour liquid nitrogen over the bomb to freeze it's electronics.(Waller)

There is obviously a higher risk for a strike now because so many
people have their hands on the buttons with 15 nations and who knows who else
might have the button to kill millions. So despite attempts to keep control on
nuclear material terrorists and third world countries are getting their hands on
the material to kill large masses of people. Key players in trying to stop this
is usually the United Nations or leaders (i.e. Reagan & Gorbachev). Looking into
the future, it will be a time of either great destruction in the world or great
reduction of nuclear based uses.

Works Cited

Allen, Arthur. "Operation Hades" New Republic August 21, 1995: 12.

Andrews, Elaine. Civil Defense in the Nuclear Age Franklin Watts, New York:

Church, George J. "Soviet Nukes on the Loose" Time December 16,1991: CD-ROM.

Frontline: Loose Nukes PBS. WMHT Albany, New York. November 19, 1996: 50 minutes.

Luttwak, Edward N. "International Arms Control" Microsoft Encarta 1995

Mayers, Teena. Understanding Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control. Education in
world: 1983.

McGirk, Tim. "Pakistan's Radioactive Bazaar" World Press Review July 1996: 35.

Mollins, Carl. "Paying for the Bomb" Macleans August 7, 1995: 38.

Talbot, Strobe. "The History of the Bomb" Time January 30, 1989: CD-ROM.

Waller, Douglas. "Nuclear Ninjas" Time January 8, 1996: 38-40

Weiss, Ann E. The Nuclear Arms Race, Can we survive it? Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1983.

Wilkie Tom. "Terrorist and the Bomb" World Press Review July 1996: 37

Williams, Gene B. Nuclear War, Nuclear Winter New York : Franklin Watts, 1989.


No author named. "Operation Sapphire" Macleans December 5, 1994: 35.

No author named. "Bombs across the Ocean" Time April 20, 1989: CD-ROM.

No author mentioned. "A Nasty Spat Against Friends" Time May 8,1989: CD-ROM.


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