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The Armageddon Test

August 12, 2009

My colleague Rolf Mowatt-Larssen has spoken about this before, most notably in Ron Suskind’s The Way of the World, but the idea of the ability for non-state actors to smuggle into the US nuclear material for a weapon remains troubling.  Rolf recently gave an interview to the Christian Science Monitor on this topic:

More than anything, he thinks the international community needs to cooperate more to prevent bomb-grade uranium and plutonium, increasingly available on the black market, from falling into terrorists’ hands. He is even promoting the controversial idea of establishing a clandestine group to acquire weapons-grade material and smuggle it into the US, as a way to goad the country into taking the threat seriously. “I’ve got a conviction that the terrorists are ahead of us on this and that we’ve got to close the gap,” says the veteran intelligence officer. “Not so much on their capability of producing a nuclear weapon, but their intent – certainly their intent is strong.”

More controversially, he proposes an “Armageddon Test”:

“If an intelligence officer and his team can go out there and collect enough material themselves to make a bomb, then we know we’ve got a problem, don’t we?” he says. “So let’s go find out whether that’s possible.”

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