We don’t get the American political debates here in the Philippines (Thank God…we have enough of our own), but today this snippet in Instapundit blog caught my eye:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yeah, that’s news if it’s true: “Bill Richardson just said that terrorists have obtained nukes in Russia. Really? Isn’t this like really, really, really, really big news? And bad?” All of the above, if it’s true.

Well, yes…and remember, it doen’t take a nuke…all you really need is some radioactive material and something to explode it all over…aka dirty bomb.

Richardson is not nuts (I used to live in New Mexico and admire the way he cleaned up the place). So where did that come from? Nothing on google news…a ah… LGFBlog has the link:an ABC NEWS blog.

the Russian Federal Customs Service has revealed that authorities thwarted more than 850 attempts to smuggle highly radioactive materials in and out of Russia in 2007. Eighty-five percent of these smuggling attempts were going into the country, and 15 percent were going out.

The figures are likely to fuel fears about how many illegal exports were not detected….Radioactive materials are not hard to come by in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). During the Soviet era, more than 15 different agencies had access to radioactive materials, from the Ministry of Geology to Metallurgy. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is little knowledge of where all these radioactive materials ended up.

If you read the whole thing, experts pooh pooh the idea that there is a lot of radioactive stuff out there, and points out the Russian monitoring systems to prevent smuggling in either direction.

About the only reason I am not too worried is because if terrorists got hold of really devestating highly radioactive material, they’d use it, or we’d see cases of radio active poisoning showing up.

Another thing not mentioned is that there are a lot of radiation detectors in the US: Doctors hear anedotal reports of patients treated with radioactive iodine for thyroid cancer being arrested in NYCity subways, and people being stopped after setting off alarms in airports the day after heart scans.

On the other hand, isn’t this type of danger worthy of discussion in a political debate? Did anyone follow up on Richardson’s remarks, and if they did, did anyone have expertise in how to detect and eliminate the problem, for example by kneecapping a suspect or by spying in on his email?
Just wondering.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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