Quote of the Day
The policy of nuclear ambiguity, by which we fool only ourselves and nobody else, is not good for us any more.
–Tel Aviv University chemistry professor Uzi Even, on Israel’s decades-old policy of neither confirming nor denying the existence of its nuclear deterrent.
Terrorists Could Acquire Australian Nuclear Waste for “Dirty Bomb,” Expert Says
An expert has warned that relocating unwanted nuclear material to a proposed national repository in Australia could make the waste vulnerable to seizure by extremists, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today (see GSN, May 11, 2009).
The proposal would open a trove of material usable in a radiological “dirty bomb” to theft during transit, said John Large, a British nuclear analyst who has consulted for government and private groups. The plan would involve the land-based transfer of radioactive material over great distances to the proposed site, located at Muckaty station in Australia’s Northern Territory.
The “transport of radioactive waste by road raises concerns relating to the security of waste [while] in transport to the facility and the potential for a significant impact on transport routes as a result of an accident,” the Northern Territory’s government said in a statement to an Australian Senate panel.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, though, informed the panel that the waste relocation would not pose a significant risk.
Last Friday, the legislative committee acquiesced to Australian Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s plan to establish the new storage site. Australia’s governing administration could submit a bill to the legislature as soon as this week to permit establishment of the facility.
A current nuclear waste storage site — located about 20 miles from Sydney — is under constant police surveillance and is surrounded by fencing topped with razor wire, said David Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Army antiterrorist personnel are also based in the area.
By contrast, no more than six security guards would monitor the proposed waste dump in shifts, Sweeney said.
Large’s firm, Large & Associates, said in a report that extremists in the United Kingdom had obtained atomic energy plant blueprints and the site of radioactive waste storage plants. Terrorists have “no reservations about the use of radioactivity” to produce chaos, according to the report (Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald, May 11).
Israel Accuses North Korea of Supplying Syria With WMD,/font>
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterday charged that aspiring nuclear power North Korea was providing Syria with weapons of mass destruction, which he said jeopardized stability in the Middle East and East Asia, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Sept. 16, 2009).
“The cooperation between Syria and North Korea is not focused on economic development and growth but rather on weapons of mass destruction,” Lieberman said to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in Tokyo, according to the diplomat’s office (see GSN, Feb. 1; Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, May 11).
He tagged the two nations and Iran as an updated “axis of evil” engaged in WMD production and proliferation, the Associated Press reported.
“We saw this kind of cooperation only two or maybe three months ago with the North Korean plane in Bangkok with huge numbers of different weapons with the intention to smuggle these weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah,” Lieberman said to journalists.
Thailand has said the North Korean arms shipment seized in December contained surface-to-air missile parts, explosives and grenades. The flight was officially headed to Iran, though observers suspected the weapons could have been ultimately intended for militant groups in the Middle East that have received backing from Tehran.
North Korea is also providing key aid to Iranian and Syrian “missile programs,” Lieberman said.
“This axis of evil that includes North Korea, Syria and Iran — it’s the biggest threat to the entire world. Not to Israel but to the entire world,” he said (Malcolm Foster, Associated Press/Google News, May 12).
“This cooperation endangers stability in both Southeast Asia and also in the Middle East and is against all the accepted norms in the international arena,” Lieberman said.
Jerusalem has previously charged Pyongyang with providing Syria with nuclear technology, AFP reported. A 2007 report in the London Sunday Times stated that Israeli commandos had captured North Korean-origin nuclear material during a covert raid at an undeclared Syrian nuclear site which was later destroyed in an aistrike. Damascus says the facility was not nuclear in nature.
The North Korean government has also maintained that it was not conducting nuclear work with Syria.
The term axis of evil was used by former U.S. President George W. Bush to describe the grouping of Iran, North Korea and prewar Iraq (see GSN, April 7; Agence France-Presse).
Bin Laden’s Location Known to Some in Pakistan, Clinton Claims
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she believes that some Pakistani officials know the whereabouts of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in what was one of the strongest accusations of supporting terrorism that the United States has ever issued to its South Asian ally, the Times of India reported today (see GSN, Dec. 4, 2009).
Clinton’s comments seemed aimed at Islamabad’s military and intelligence sectors rather than the civilian government, according to the newspaper.
”I am not saying they are at the highest level … but I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and where [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Taliban are,” Clinton said in a “60 Minutes” interview. ‘”We expect more cooperation [from Islamabad] to help us bring to justice capture or kill those who brought us 9/11.”
On the run following the invasion of Afghanistan, Bin Laden is thought to have found refuge in Pakistan’s Waziristan region.
Earlier this week, Obama officials accused the Pakistani-based Tehrik-e-Taliban of being behind the failed Times Square terrorist bomb plot in New York City (see GSN, May 10).
“This is the threat we share,” Clinton said in comments directed toward the Pakistani government. “We have a common enemy … there is no time to waste … go as fast and hard as we can.”
“We cannot tolerate having people encouraged, directed, trained and sent from Pakistan to attack us,” she added (Chidanand Rajghatta, Times of India, May 10).
Despite assertions by Washington that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted bombing not many experts believe the Pakistani army would move quickly to target extremists’ camps in North Waziristan, the Associated Press reported.
“I don’t think the timing of this operation will be dictated by American pressure,” Islamabad-based defense expert Riffat Hussain said. “You will find an intensification of the search and destroy operations and deepening intelligence coordination to get hold of the people linked to the Pakistani Taliban, especially people who are part of the network that sponsored [accused bomber] Faisal Shahzad” (Chris Brummitt, Associated Press/Google News, May 10).