Elderly Nun Proves We Have a Nuclear Security Problem

Sophisticated thieves could easily steal highly enriched uranium
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2014 1:45 PM CDT
In this Aug. 17, 2012, file photo, signs warn against trespassing onto the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, file)
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(Newser) – In 2009, a gang of masked men landed a helicopter on a Swedish cash depot, blew open its skylight, and made off with millions of dollars in less than 20 minutes, while throwing the police off their scent with a fake bomb and road spikes. What would happen if thieves that sophisticated tried to steal nuclear material? Well let's put it this way: In 2012, three peace protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, managed to just waltz into a facility nicknamed "the Fort Knox of highly enriched uranium."

Eben Harrell at Time uses those stories to illustrate the "stark truth" that many nuclear facilities are incredibly vulnerable, given that "an amount of plutonium that would fit in a soda can" could reduce "the heart of a major city to rubble." Some lack equipment, while guards at others are simply complacent, while still many others are simply defenseless against insider thefts. The US and Russia must show unity on this issue at the Hague summit this week, and work to secure these stockpiles. "No geopolitical dispute—not even Crimea—is more important." Click for Harrell's full column.

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