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US Couple Arrested For Transmitting Nuclear Secrets In Sting Operation

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the when-alabama-gets-the-bomb dept.

Government 372

DesScorp writes "Recalling the famous Rosenberg nuclear spy case of the '50s, the US Justice Department has arrested a couple working at a 'leading nuclear research facility' for giving nuclear secrets to Venezuela. Pedro and Marjorie Mascheroni 'have been indicted on charges of communicating classified nuclear weapons data to a person they believed to be a Venezuelan government official and conspiring to participate in the development of an atomic weapon for Venezuela,' the department said in a statement. If convicted, the couple would receive life in prison."

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372 comments

FTFA (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616372)

75 and 67 years old? Jeebus.

Re:FTFA (3, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616394)

I don't understand why people (continue to) try to sell government secrets. The risk of getting caught far outweighs the potential reward; especially if you can't spend any of it without drawing attention.

If you want to sell "secrets", join a bank.. nobody gives a shit about leaked customer information.

Re:FTFA (2, Insightful)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616414)

At that age, 'life in prison' probably isn't much of a deterrent. The potential reward may well outweigh a decade of imprisonment.

Re:FTFA (4, Insightful)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616450)

At that age, 'life in prison' probably isn't much of a deterrent. The potential reward may well outweigh a decade of imprisonment.

especially if the reward isn't for you, and is for family members/loved ones

Re:FTFA (3, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616970)

Au contraire: the time life you have left, the more valuable it becomes. That's 0 more birthdays, holidays, or weekends spent with the grandkids, and they with you. You didn't just gamble with your own future, but everyone who cares about you as well.

The thing that surprises me (though I guess it shouldn't, given the number of incidents) is that while I might expect someone working at McDonalds to be both stupid and desperate enough to try to do something like that, I would have hoped that someone working at a nuclear research facility with access to TS information would be neither stupid nor desperate.

And the irony is that knowing *how* to make a nuclear weapon isn't even a well kept secret.. AT ALL. Someone offering to pay lots of money for that information should have been a huge red flag, even absent any other moral, ethical, or practical concerns.

Re:FTFA (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616980)

Or if you're not doing it for the money, but for ideological reasons.

"Life" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616862)

I was under the impression that the federal justice system has no concept of "parole" or "time off for good behavior" etc. So chances are this "life in prison" is likely to be a little bit more effective than your wussy state "life in prison".

Re:FTFA (3, Insightful)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616470)

People risk their life for less of a potential reward every day. Think of the average solider or firefighter.

Re:FTFA (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616610)

To some people, saving a person's life is more important than getting some dirty money.

Re:FTFA (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616660)

Money is only "dirty" to the people on the other side of the fence.

Re:FTFA (-1, Flamebait)

mweather (1089505) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616722)

And to others, being a soldier is just the first step toward being a mercenary.

Re:FTFA (1)

Zero_Independent (664974) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616908)

Is that to say, that for most people, getting dirty money is more important than saving a person's life?

The risks aren't what they were before (4, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616786)

"If convicted, the couple would receive life in prison."

The Rosenberg couple received *death* in prison.

Re:FTFA (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616850)

They'll be better looked after in prison than on Social Security. No joke.

Re:FTFA (3, Insightful)

an00bis (667089) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616978)

They'll be better looked after in prison than on Social Security. No joke.

This is the truth, why was this marked as Troll?

People buy lottery tickets too (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616968)

and many think they will hit it big alleviating them from having to save for their retirement.

Re:FTFA (1)

anti-human 1 (911677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616510)

Face it, it is time to leave the Science to the 120 year olds.

Re:FTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616566)

They were probably stolen since the Manhattan Project and took some time to get them on the market.

Re:FTFA (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616652)

75 and 67 years old?

Yeah, that's about the right age. 10 and 2 the day the Bomb was dropped on Japan in 1945. 17 and 9 the day the H-Bomb was tested in 1952. 24 and 16 the day the Russkies launched Sputnik in 1959. Perfect timing for a young adult or child to get inspired by the prospects of a career in science and engineering, and to subsequently find themselves in their 30s (or 20s) at a weapons lab building the World's Biggest Fireworks during the heyday of Cold War bomb design.

(What, you think NASA built all those rockets just to beat the Russians to the moon? Manned spaceflight, satellite phones, GPS, and Google Maps are all spinoffs from things that were fundamentally cold war-era military projects: a fleet of reliable ICBMs, communications systems, navigation and targeting systems, and spy satellites.)

The present-day stockpile stewardship has led to lots of interesting advances (with civilian applications) in supercomputing, solid state physics, and helped out with the monitoring/cleanup of old nuclear sites, but when it comes to practical applications, most of the folks are going to be old. (Any young adult growing up today - in the post-test-ban treaty era - that considers a career in this direction is aware they'll still be dealing with very interesting problems... but that the closest they'll ever get to knowing if it really works is in the form of analyzing the results from subcritical tests or from computer simulations.)

I don't have a need to know if there are many (or any) young nuclear weapons designers today, but I suspect that since we haven't fielded a new design in decades, that much of weapons design is rapidly approaching the "lost knowledge" stage, and the demographic is akin to that grizzled (but brilliant!) old guy who still knows how to fix a mechanical typewriter or tune a carburetor.

Much like the WW2 vets, the people of the Manhattan Project aren't going to be around much longer - and the second generation of weaponeers (who worked on the bombs that brought us the Cold War) is also getting pretty damn long in the tooth. Here's hoping the young'uns at the labs - even if they can never talk about the lost knowledge they've preserved - are at least taking steps to preserve the stories of the people who came before them. Because there are (and shouldn't be!) publicly-accessible papers on much of this research, it's even more vital that the labs who did the engineering (and who are entrusted with the responsibility of keeping it under wraps) to take steps to record, preserve, and secure the history for the next generation of engineers.

Fuck these two asshats for leaking secrets. But here's a pseudonymous note of civilian thanks to the vast majority of you old fogies who did keep true to your oaths. You did some damn fine engineering while keeping secret the things that needed to remain secret. We random civilian nerds will never (and given the state of the world, probably should never!) have a chance to fully appreciate just how good the engineering was, but from what you have been permitted to declassify so far... yeah, pretty damn good. You gave us a world in which Fallout 3 was a fun video game, not a reality TV show. Thanks!)

Re:FTFA (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616666)

Well that was non sequitur.

Re:FTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616698)

HISTORY FAIL! Sputnik was launched in 1957!

Re:FTFA (0, Troll)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616846)

You did some damn fine engineering while keeping secret the things that needed to remain secret.

You know, a funny thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of people in the US who think that *everyone* should have a gun. But when you pressure them a little, it turns out that they don't think that *really* everyone should have a gun. Those damn illegal Mexicans, for example, they shouldn't be allowed guns. Or those Muslims, no guns for them. So really what they want is for only the people they think are the right sort of people to be able to have guns.

Now, consider that a nuclear weapon is really just another kind of gun...

Re:FTFA (1)

pastyM (1580389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616984)

Sadly you are right many gun rights people I know really thing the second amendment only apples to them and there friends. I feel we should ether ban every weapon ever made down to the rocks that can be thrown or ban nothing at all. Because what give anyone the right to say that "we can have something but you can't". Sorry for my little rant.

CITE PLEASE (4, Insightful)

Alaska Jack (679307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33617052)

[needs citation]

1. I bet I know a lot more people in the gun rights movement than you, and I don't know one -- NOT A SINGLE ONE -- who thinks the way that *you* think they do.

2. You say "there are a lot of people in the US who think that *everyone* should have a gun." Really? So there are "a lot of people" who think psychopaths should have guns? Convicted felons on parole?

3. They may think that only people here legally should have guns, but that is a perfectly defensible position. I have NEVER, EVER seen ONE SINGLE INSTANCE of someone saying that guns are bad for illegal Mexicans, but fine for other illegals.

4. In the same vein, please support you assertion that "lots of people" believe everyone should have the right to bear arms in self defense except Muslims.

5. Failing all this, do you think it might be possible -- just *possible -- that in fact you just got up in front of everyone and tried to pass off your own personal bias as fact?

  - AJ

Re:FTFA (4, Informative)

cyn1c77 (928549) | more than 3 years ago | (#33617072)

You did some damn fine engineering while keeping secret the things that needed to remain secret.

You know, a funny thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of people in the US who think that *everyone* should have a gun. But when you pressure them a little, it turns out that they don't think that *really* everyone should have a gun. Those damn illegal Mexicans, for example, they shouldn't be allowed guns. Or those Muslims, no guns for them. So really what they want is for only the people they think are the right sort of people to be able to have guns.

I believe the argument is that every US citizen who can qualify on a shooting range with a gun should be able to carry one. So non-US citizens would not meet that criteria.

Now, consider that a nuclear weapon is really just another kind of gun...

You fail completely with this statement. The method of operation is different. The energy release is orders of magnitude different. Ignoring the difference in energy magnitudes, a nuclear weapon is really just another kind of BOMB. Note that this is different than a gun. Is it legal for you to own a bomb in the US?

for those of you who charge hypocrisy (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616388)

the more nukes around the more chance for something bad to happen

yes, that the usa has nukes, but venezuela doesn't can be seen as hypocritical if you want

so, if you honestly believe the world is a better place with equanimity, you should be working very hard for the usa to get rid of its nuclear arsenal. and you should be happy venezuela was denied, and not in any way do you think the world is a better place if both countries have nukes

right? right?

(rolls eyes)

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616420)

Evidently your nick is highly appropriate

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616442)

nuclear secrets really aren't. The nth country experiment showed that over 40 years ago. Trying to keep the knowledge locked away is futile, the only hope is to control the fissile material.

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616494)

The devil is in the details. While the basics of making a uranium bomb are fairly common knowledge, the nitty, gritty details of making a proper plutonium bomb are well kept secrets. Get it wrong, and things don't really work. Or it blows up in your face, taking a small city with it. It is very complex and requires some very precise manufacturing capabilities that are beyond the abilities of most countries in the world to get right.

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (3, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616518)

> Or it blows up in your face, taking a small city with it.

So make it in the city you want to blow up.

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616536)

Thus killing 2,423,158 birds with one stone? Hmmm...

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

marcobat (1178909) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616748)

2,423,158 umh? according to wikipedia you are not thinking of any city in the USA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population [wikipedia.org]

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616888)

Well some of Chicago might survive

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (2, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616580)

I believe, that a crude but working plutonium implosion weapon can be fairly easy modeled even on a fairly modest supercomputer.

Precision manufacturing? Yes, but it's also much more accessible now (think laser cutting).

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616754)

I'm surprised that more countries don't have Uranium based devices. Even a low yield Uranium device is enough to destroy a city, kill 10s of thousands of civilians (direct blast or contamination) and use as a stick to bully your neighbors.

And as you point out its much easier to build a Uranium device than a Plutonium device, yet most countries put such effort into the latter. Yes I know, higher yield, smaller size but still ...

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (2, Interesting)

ChrisK87 (901429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616766)

The theory behind making a working fission bomb was considered straightforward back in the late 30's. It's no accident we had a working nuke a decade after learning the structure of the atom and the nature of radiation. The only reason we beat Britain, France, Germany, and the USSR to the first nuclear weapon is because everyone else was putting their entire economy into winning WWII. More important than the design of a nuke, as Chill mentions, is the manufacturing process (and hiding it from the IAEA). Also, effective delivery devices are fairly well controlled. There's a big difference between a medium range ballistic missile MIRVs/SLBMs. I've read that it is uncertain whether Pakistan has small enough nukes and delivery systems to have significant second strike capability, which has some serious implications for stability in the region.

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616926)

While the basics of making a uranium bomb are fairly common knowledge, the nitty, gritty details of making a proper plutonium bomb are well kept secrets.

That depends on what you mean by "proper". There are a lot of clever ideas (like great-stuff expanding foam or the Peltier trick) that most people don't know about for getting smaller devices or unique configurations, but none of those are really necessary for a basic plutonium device. Granted, the device would be very bulky and crude compared to the best modern devices, but making a plutonium gadget is almost trivial; and you don't even need the complex timing requirements if you go with a two point ovoid design (not that I would recommend that, since they're very inefficient and it would be a terrible waste of perfectly good plutonium).

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

Lakitu (136170) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616762)

Who cares how futile it is, if you can delay potential nuclear armageddon for a century or two?

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616444)

...what?

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616514)

It wouldn't be nearly as bad if it were, say, Canada or Brazil.

Venezuela is known for it's anti-American leader Hugo Chavez, who loves to troll us. From what I hear, though, his people are sick of his bullshit.

Re:for those of you who charge hypocrisy (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616872)

From what you heard, everyone in the world loves Americans.

Clues (0, Troll)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616398)

Pedro and Marjorie Mascheroni

I am a such a racist.

Re:Clues (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616402)

Italian, not Spanish, ass.

Re:Clues (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616418)

Where did he imply they were Hispanic? It almost sounds like reverse racism and straw-man-inducing liberalism.

I make absolutely no claim other than statistical data != racism.

And even then, I am not presenting any statistics.

Re:Clues (0)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616428)

Your assumption of Spanish is indicative of hilarity.

Re:Clues (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616596)

He's from Argentina, if you have to know.

Argentina tied as assylum to Nazi war-criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616790)

Just tell the Jews that there is money, Intellectual Property of Nuclear patents, and their favorite 1/4 jewish Hitler all hiding in Argentina, and faster than you can see a Kite-flying Kike on a bike I assure you that country will be economically pulverised with taxes of all kinds.

what id like to see (0, Offtopic)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616438)

is more realistic approaches to nuclear nonproliferation. face up to the fact that all countries will inevitably achieve nuclear weapons capability in the near future, and act accordingly with the international community through political and economic incentives to assure all countries are well appraised that, while attractive in the face of gridlock warfare or political strife, the ending outcome of nuclear war is negative for all parties involved. Arms will always proliferate, the question is, how do we proliferate peace.

Re:what id like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616486)

Arms will always proliferate, the question is, how do we proliferate peace.

Inflicting a military defeat often works wonders, but it may be necessary to do so repeatedly in the case of the stubborn or stupid.

Re:what id like to see (5, Insightful)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616500)

That assumes that everyone is equally rational, which we know is not the case. It would only take one psychopath to end the world and laugh as everything around him burned to the ground.

Re:what id like to see (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616582)

I can think of nothing more psychopathic than several former leaders of the USSR. And the bombs did not go flying!
                              I think that has to do with those rational enough to have a team to finance, build and deliver a nuclear device are sane enough to want to avoid the inevitable retaliation that would follow any kind of atomic or nuclear attack. For example several Arab nations have a serious hatred of Israel yet none of those nations want to be turned into a smoking pit which would be a rather easy thing to do. Even that little 9/11 stuff has turned into a real negative for the Arab region with an awful lot of suffering going on over there. Imagine if they had harmed our nation as a whole rather than as a somewhat confined attack.

Re:what id like to see (2, Insightful)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616632)

> Imagine if they had harmed our nation as a whole rather than as a somewhat confined attack.

'They'? I'm quite sure most of the people suffering (or dying) had nothing to do with the particular attack that I assume you are referring to.

Re:what id like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616644)

I can think of nothing more psychopathic than several former leaders of the US. And the bombs did not go flying!

FTFY.

Re:what id like to see (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616716)

Those "psychopathic" leaders from the USSR only cared about one thing. POWER! That's all the cared about. However, launching a full scale nuclear war would render their cities into smoldering ruins with nothing to show for it. Basically, between the US and USSR, it was a classic game of chicken.

Now with religious (Islamic) leaders at the helm... Well, they might actually burn the world to win Jihad against sinners in the eyes of Allah. Real honest-to-God religious convictions at the helm of a nuclear arsenal is not what you want.

Re:what id like to see (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616812)

Which is why the world superpowers need to get together and wipe the Arab states(and Israel) off the face of the map, then split the profits from the resources.

Do you get misty envisioning at least 50 more years of driving comfortable climate-controlled SUV's with DVD players in 'em to distract your 5 kids during the grueling 1/4-mile trip to Whole Foods(tm)?

Do you get misty envisioning the Arab women in your countries finally empowering themselves and flinging the rags off their faces to share their beauty and companionship with cultured, large-dicked white men who bathe on a regular basis and know how to treat women with the respect they deserve?

Those damn shin-kickers have been toying with us and trolling us for too long. It's high time we bring in the Orkin men to take those vermin out.

Re:what id like to see (3, Insightful)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616992)

What really scares me is not that someone is calling for the extermination of entire peoples and states (it's been done before); but that while reading this post, for a brief moment...I seriously considered the proposal.

Power is all that matters. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616960)

Power is all that matters. Thats all anyone cares about, thats all governments care about, thats all that matters because might is right.

Re:what id like to see (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616680)

That assumes that everyone is equally rational, which we know is not the case. It would only take one psychopath to end the world and laugh as everything around him burned to the ground.

That's why you don't give political power to psychopaths. The preferred cure is prevention. If they somehow achieve power and show signs of being psychopaths, and nuclear weapons might be involved, then the people of Venezuela should understand that sometimes a rabid dog needs to be put down.

It's not like there is any shortage of politicians. There are plenty more where that one came from.

A better long-term solution would be to institute a system like the US Constitution except that all political offices are limited to one short term, assigned by lottery from a random selection of all adult citizens, and conducted like a military draft in that refusing to serve could result in imprisonment. Anyone who has ever held office at any level of government is disqualified from ever being selected again either voluntarily or involuntarily. There would still be popular elections occurring at every quarter of a term of office (so every year if it's a 4-year term), but they'd be for the purpose of deciding whether someone holding office should be removed prematurely and replaced by a new random selection. Corporations and organizations would be strictly forbidden from participating in this process at any level, backed by the penalty of having the entity dissolved and all assets seized and sold off at auction. That's because with the elimination of a need to campaign, any participation by them must be corruption and cannot be called a *wink wink nudge nudge* campaign contribution.

Maybe that idea is flawed and maybe it isn't. The point though is to remove "politician" as a career and to recognize that the people who want power so badly that they'll campaign, accept corruption, etc. in order to obtain it are not to be trusted with it. It would remove the notion of a ruling class and replace it with a notion of civic duty, much like the way we view jury duty. I think what we'd find is that average working people are not eager to obtain nuclear weapons and play silly games based around flirting with utter destruction.

Re:what id like to see (1)

marcobat (1178909) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616774)

That's why you don't give political power to psychopaths.

Silly me! i thought it was a requirement.

Re:what id like to see (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33617012)

While this sounds nice theoretically, you would be amazed at the amount of horrible damage one idiot could cause in a single year.

Re:what id like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616902)

That's true only if you buy into the theory that a psychopath can easily become a leader of a country that can muster enough resolution and resourcefulness to come up with working nuclear weapons in sufficient amount to "end the world".

If you stop and think about it for a while, you'll realize how wrong you are.

Re:what id like to see (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616506)

Be good to yourselves....and each other.

Re:what id like to see (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616556)

is more realistic approaches to nuclear nonproliferation. face up to the fact that all countries will inevitably achieve nuclear weapons capability in the near future, and act accordingly with the international community through political and economic incentives to assure all countries are well appraised that, while attractive in the face of gridlock warfare or political strife, the ending outcome of nuclear war is negative for all parties involved. Arms will always proliferate, the question is, how do we proliferate peace.

Put it this way:

A. There are some countries who should not be allowed nuclear weapons because they will probably use them.

B. There are some countries who should not be allowed nuclear weapons because they may lose track of them (thus making those weapons available to nations of type A -or- to certain (ahem!) non-governmental organizations who will probably use them.

The Cold War was a dangerous game (and we're not out of the woods yet: many of those weapons still exist and so do the ideological differences for that matter) but the leaders of both sides weren't willing to die for their ideology. That basic rationality is no longer a given, as these weapons proliferate to less politically stable nations.

This (badly mistaken) idea that it's acceptable for anyone to steal nuclear weapons technology because, well, heck, they'll get it eventually is just wrong. Yes, they might get it eventually, but the odds of that happening are reduced if they aren't forced to make the same investment that we and the Soviets made. And you never know: if it comes down to that, they may decide they have better uses for the money. And if not, if they do get nukes but have to take a few years to figure out how, well, that's a few more years of relative safety for the rest of us.

Re:what id like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616696)

You just read all that from the back of the Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker box, didn't you?

Re:what id like to see (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616720)

The Cold War was a dangerous game (and we're not out of the woods yet: many of those weapons still exist and so do the ideological differences for that matter) but the leaders of both sides weren't willing to die for their ideology. That basic rationality is no longer a given, as these weapons proliferate to less politically stable nations.

I'm confident the leaders of major world powers wouldn't ever have to die for their ideology. The days of the king having the balls to lead his troops into war and have his sons fight alongside him are long over. No, they'd be sheltered in a bunker somewhere with years and years of stored non-perishable supplies.

It is the general population that would die. As there is no political power or tax money to be obtained from a mass of dead people, the leaders would lose the only things they ever cared about. It would possibly be a fate worse than death for them. That's why they displayed some rationality when confronted with concepts like Mutually Assured Destruction.

This (badly mistaken) idea that it's acceptable for anyone to steal nuclear weapons technology because, well, heck, they'll get it eventually is just wrong. Yes, they might get it eventually, but the odds of that happening are reduced if they aren't forced to make the same investment that we and the Soviets made. And you never know: if it comes down to that, they may decide they have better uses for the money. And if not, if they do get nukes but have to take a few years to figure out how, well, that's a few more years of relative safety for the rest of us.

Right there you seem to acknowledge yourself that sustained ignorance of how to build such weapons is not a long-term solution. It must be assumed that at some point some very dangerous and very crazy people are going to obtain a nuke. Keeping such information out of their hands serves only one purpose and that is to buy us time. We should be using that time to come up with better long-term solutions, like detecting the facilities used to build such things or tracking the transportation of the required materials or rendering non-fissile as much nuclear material as possible.

Re:what id like to see (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616808)

rendering non-fissile as much nuclear material as possible.

How, exactly, would that work? Also, the tracking and the detecting is, I believe, what the IAEA has been doing for decades, and Kim Jong Il still got the bomb.

somebody will find the fissile material (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616880)

dig it up and refine it secretly, so not even satellites could see it happening

and all you really need i think is some thick walls of lead, a nice shipping container on a ship headed to a port that handles millions of shipping containers, and boom. how do you detect a bomb through thick walls of lead?

Re:what id like to see (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33617014)

I believe what the poster was saying (and I agree with) is that as a State the USSR was unwilling to sacrifice its population to win a war against the US.

Iran clearly has no such compunctions. They are willing to sacrifice their population over an election. There are a number of other states and non-governmental groups that would be more than happy to start a nuclear war because regardless of the lives lost their ideology would survive.

Unfortunately, there is no technology that allows for remote sensing of nuclear materials in a bomb. At extremely close range you can (probably? hopefully?) detect some increase above background radiation and the US is counting heavily on that today. You cannot stand off in Earth orbit and detect even a big pile of unshielded uranium much less a subcritical mass bomb that is shielded.

Right now it seems Iran is a special case of thumbing their nose at the world and saying they are going to do whatever the heck they want regardless of what anyone says about it. Sanctions that affect the population aren't going to have much effect on the decision makers. This is likely to turn into a very nasty war because they are certainly going to take out Israel as soon as they have the capability to do so. Their leaders have said so, their national identity says so and they have never said that was off the table. So of course, Israel says they are going to take them out first. So far, I believe the US has requested they hold off but that state of affairs isn't going to last forever. If Israel gets hit - either as a first strike or as a result of not destroying every weapon in their first strike - the US will pretty much be committed to following up with a strike on Iran. Which then triggers the rest of the Muslim world declaring war on the US.

Frankly, I don't see a way out of it. Iran certainly isn't going to abandon their status as a Muslim theocratic nation whose obligation is to destroy the state of Israel. The US is certainly going to honor its committments to Israel. The rest of the Muslim world isn't going to stand by and watch millions of Muslims be killed.

Re:what id like to see (2, Informative)

marcobat (1178909) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616798)

According to your reasoning about A (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki) and B (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20427730/) the USA should not be allowed to have nuclear Weapons.

exactly (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616842)

the usa should not have nuclear weapons. no nation should

so you should be spending your time pestering those with nukes to get rid of them. not condoning even more nations getting them!

its like "my neighbor has a meth lab. i won't try to get my neighbor to get rid of the meth lab. instead, i will simply support my other neighbor getting his own meth lab, so that its fair"

seriously?

and yet that is some people's reasoning on why nuclear proliferation is ok. its insane

Re:what id like to see (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33617026)

Well, duh, the US is the biggest terrorist country on the planet, and most dangerous, and most out of control.

Re:what id like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33617016)

Get the fuck over it. I could build a zippe type centrifuge cascade with alluminum rotors given a cnc lathe and $20,000.

While you osterragees are trying to keep the 3rd world in the dark ages technologically: the inevitable march of progress and globalization is slowly herding 1940s technology to even the most backwards of despots.

If you think we can continue to rely on non-proliferation to prevent nuclear terrorism: you're an idiot.

The only solution is the elimination of population centers via telecommerce, and breakthroughs in transportation of resources. Cities will be getting population haircuts as meat-time becomes more and more irrelevant in the face of the cloud. Once again they'll return to industrial centers focused on transportation and shipping rather than representing some sort of cultural commercial renaissance. What cities remain will be underground fortresses buried under concrete.

Re:what id like to see (0, Troll)

eyeb1 (522766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33617020)

the two biggest countries in category A .. already have nuclear weapons in abundance .. there is only two countries that has for sure used and continues to use nuclear weapons in the form of depleted uranium weapons .. and that is america and israel .. and in all cases they have been used against civilian population .. with the us having the largest stockpile and israel the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons .. and if you think you need to worry about other countries aspirations .. the greatest nuclear threat that the world has ever known .. will be the next american president .. an apocalyptic messianic gun-toting zionist psychopath by the name of shara palin .. Shara [examiner.com]

TFA: Venezuala was not involved (5, Informative)

guanxi (216397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616464)

If you read the TFA, you will learn that the government of Venezuela was not involved at all. The accused didn't sell secrets to anyone but an undercover FBI agent. While trying to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign government is definitely a problem, it's not true that they were "giving nuclear secrets to Venezuela".

Re:TFA: Venezuala was not involved (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616628)

The headline most likely is a douchebaggery.

Fission bomb is a technology that's more than half a century old. There isn't much secret to be stolen to build a crude bomb.

Re:TFA: Venezuala was not involved (5, Insightful)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616750)

Yeah, I found that little bit of propaganda to be exceptionally vile when I first read of this a few hours ago.

But for the U.S. it's demonize two birds with one stone: The Feds get to play up the fear of nuclear terrorists, and plant the next-after-Iran seed in the public's mind as well.

Even though Venezuela wasn't involved at all, just watch how many "news" outlets echo the "Venezuela's stealing U.S. secrets and building nukes" part of the headline.

So it's win-win for the U.S. government. Who among them cares whether it's true?

"US Couple Arrested For Transmitting Child Pornography To President Obama."

Information wants to be free! (0, Troll)

brit74 (831798) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616488)

Information wants to be free! There should be no laws against transmitting knowledge! You can't steal information - you're only making a copy of it! [/sarcasm]

Re:Information wants to be free! (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616626)

Parent is not a troll, his sarcasm is justified. As far as I remember there were plenty of people here who were (seriously) making that very point regarding the wikileaks case.

Re:Information wants to be free! (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616756)

Wish I had the mod points to vote you up there, you're making an important point and being punished for it.

Re:Information wants to be free! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33617024)

You have a point, but on the other hand.....

Information on the Nazi Engima code wanted to be free too.

And this is why... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616502)

You don't piss off your nuclear scientists. Even retired you better take care of them, or otherwise one or more of them will get past the efforts to watch them, and they'll sell what you didn't want sold.

Keep them happy.

Or buy more bullets.

Sting operation? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616540)

Kudos to his efforts in being both a legendary songwriter and doing his part to help keep our nation safe!

Re:Sting operation? (0)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616658)

I heard he was working undercover with Chuck Norris!

Nuclear weapons Venezuela ? (2, Insightful)

Clived (106409) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616550)

What the hell would Venezuela want nuclear weapons for anyway??

Re:Nuclear weapons Venezuela ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616616)

Oh, I don't know - maybe so Hugo can have a stick as big as his threats? To stop the "evil empire" maybe?

Re:Nuclear weapons Venezuela ? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616916)

To make FARC the effective government of Colombia?

Re:Nuclear weapons Venezuela ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616924)

What the hell would Venezuela want nuclear weapons for anyway??

To protect and defend themselves against You-- There's no assault into a country which can pack a punch, period. It is not profitable. Thank Hans Blix for doing the dirty work for you in Iraq and making sure there would be no real high-arm resistance.

Re:Nuclear weapons Venezuela ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616932)

What the hell would Venezuela want nuclear weapons for anyway??

I'll just assume that you have never tried to sit through one of Chavez's television addresses to the nation.

what about the time homer simpson let that kid in (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616564)

what about the time homer simpson let that kid in the foreign exchange in to the plant and give him all kind of plans as well?

Some reasons are better than others. (1)

blargfellow (948805) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616570)

He claims he did it to secure funding for his fusion research. It was more noble than doing it for the cash, I guess...

Re:Some reasons are better than others. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616744)

Maybe he just thought he could sell the fusion research for a lot *more* cash...

Dynamite Monkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616590)

At this point, I have to wonder if US Government keeps setting up Los Alamos with suspect people as sure-fire way to keep the modicum of security for this country, sub-par. You could blame managerial incompetence, but that would mean several supposed well-respected institutions of higher learning, and several powerful US Departments and subsequent Congressional oversight committees, are stocked with idiots as well.

On second thought, this is entirely possible.

Could be worse (5, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616602)

As frightening as a nuclear Venezuela is, I'd be more scared by a nuclear Vuvuzela.

Yu don't just walk into a store and buy plutonium. (5, Funny)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616630)

They wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their plutonium and in turn, gave them a shiny bomb-casing filled with used pinball machine parts.

Re:Yu don't just walk into a store and buy plutoni (0)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616840)

*Like*

Sad clueless desperate people. (4, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616648)

It sounds like these people had "brilliant ideas" for improving nuclear FUSION but were rebuffed by the people at the lab and later by congressional staffers. They could have been brilliant or just a little disconnected from reality.

It appears that in a desperate attempt to fund their FUSION research, they tried to contact foreign governments with information on building a FISSION bomb (plans downloaded from the Internet) so the FBI obliged by providing a fake Venezuelan contact to trap them.

This is just sad.

LANL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33616654)

couple working at at 'leading nuclear research facility'

Pssssttt.... don't say it's Los Alamos National Laboratory [wikipedia.org] !

what secrets are these? (1)

ook_boo (1373633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616796)

There's something strange about this. How to make atomic weapons is not that difficult, and certainly not secret. Any 14-year-old with an interest in physics and chemistry has enough information to do this. The tough part is that you need a medium-sized country with the infrastructure and budget to refine the materials and manufacture to high specifications.

Re:what secrets are these? (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616976)

Any 14 year-old could probably make an atomic bomb with a critical mass of uranium or plutonium. Such a bomb would be huge and require lots of shielding to be safe to handle - like attaching to an aircraft or loading into a shipping container.

On the other hand, what is required to detonate a subcritical mass is a little bit tricky. It is clearly possible because the US has thermonuclear weapons that are smaller than the core of the first atomic bombs. I'm not sure that A. Q. Khan even had that information, although he was US-trained.

If you want to put a bomb in a shipping container, the Hiroshima bomb would be good enough. If you want to put a bomb into an Amazon box and ship it somewhere in the US that might require a bit more expertise and that is much harder to come by.

nuclear family? (1)

ifeelswine (1546221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33616816)

but but the religious right has said the nuclear family doesn't exist anymore. i'm confused
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