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Scientists Who Smuggle Radioactive Materials

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the probably-more-ethical-than-most-ways-they-can-get-funding dept.

Government 66

Lasrick writes: Although the complicity of scientists in the smuggling of radioactive materials has been a long-standing concern, smuggling-prevention efforts have so far failed to recognize a key aspect to the problem: scientists are often sought out to test the quality and level of the material well before it is taken to the black market. Egle Murauskaite of the U.S. National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) describes why concentrating on this aspect of the smuggling process, long considered less egregious than the actual selling of the material, could really make a difference in keeping radioactive materials off the black market in the first place.

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I've got it!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47659917)

If only there was only some kind of NATIONAL secret, shadowy group to watch these guys. They could ensure the SECURITY of such important materials by illegally tracking these scientists communications and electronic material with all manner of clever devices. Such an AGENCY would surely get a great deal of oversight and protections so that while they were protecting us from disasters of smuggled nuclear material (or pinball parts) they would not become overreaching and possibly try to blackmail Congresscritters for more power.

If only somebody would have thought of a solution to this problem.. With a whole Alphabet to make up catchy names from.

Re:I've got it!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660027)

No, we're going to need 3 more new agencies.

Re:I've got it!!! (2)

uncqual (836337) | about a month ago | (#47660043)

Unfortunately, there are no more TLAs left so the function will have to be folded into existing agencies.

Re:I've got it!!! (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a month ago | (#47660501)

Just start over and use "AAA".

Re:I've got it!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47661611)

Too much competition for "AAA" according to my copy of the local Yellow Pages.

Better to expand into Unicode for the next round of TLA's.

Re:I've got it!!! (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about a month ago | (#47661647)

Those are hindering or directly endangering the government's work. They should be transferred to gitmo.

Re:I've got it!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47661925)

If only there was only some kind of NATIONAL secret, shadowy group to watch these guys.

I'm sorry, there is No Such Agency.

Too hot to touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47659925)

watch out for the NSA

Often? Black market? WTF? (2)

Cyberax (705495) | about a month ago | (#47659927)

There is no black market for radionuclides - they are useless for criminals. And terrorists would want either something REALLY hot for a dirty bomb (in which case they don't need to do any tests except standing nearby with a dosimeter) or highly enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium. Both require expertise to turn into actual weapons.

Re:Often? Black market? WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660057)

I don't think it is quite that simple. Two points:

Yes, common criminals don't have a use for radionuclides. But they might act as conduits for such material to terrorists or rogue states, and to be effective conduits they have to know if they are buying the real thing. Why should the technically experienced nuke-maker be the one who makes the original purchase?

A dirty bomb is largely a psychological attack. It needs to contain radionuclides that will make for scary press stories. Those stories will be scarier if they involve isotopes found in nuclear waste and at reactor accidents (say Cs 137) than isotopes normally present in our environment (say K 40). I think a dirty bomb building terrorist would care about which isotope they are buying, because that will affect the stories in the press, and those stories are what a dirty bomb maker is really engineering.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660149)

Seems like if you want a real terror attack you just need some ebola victims, or a few vials of blood.

Forget wasting time on radioactives, which will be easy to track, get a few vials of something and until you crack the lid good luck on them catching you.

Re:Often? Black market? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660209)

"and those stories are what a dirty bomb maker is really engineering."

Not really, no. If it's sufficiently hot enough they can deny a pretty fair sized area for a period of months to years. It's not all "scaremongering", that shit is real.

Re:Often? Black market? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660289)

Not really. Dispersal methods don't work less than an actual fission explosion.

Re:Often? Black market? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660725)

"Dispersal methods don't work" is not a valid argument. There are some that DO work. They work like gangbusters, and it doesn't take a lot.

Fear Mongering continued (4, Interesting)

s.petry (762400) | about a month ago | (#47660531)

In order to continue the "War On Terror" they need to invent bogey men. Reality does matter to those people, just watch TV "News" every now and again.

A point that you miss is that there are countless beneficial uses for radioactive materials that are not related to terrorism, in fact every time you go near a medical facility pay attention to all of the signs.

When is the last time you ever heard a "3rd world countries only want uranium so that they can terrorize the world" speaking politician mention how they believe those countries can achieve medical procedures we use every day in hospitals and labs (not including Universities and other research facilities) without radioactive isotopes. Things like X-Rays, Chemotherapy, CT scans, and everything else found in a Nuclear Medicine office (which is a pretty long list).

Before you "but that's radioactive Iodine, not Uranium" you hopefully know that production of radioactive Iodine requires Uranium. The difference between weapons grade and medical grade Uranium is how much enrichment is done (much less for Medical use, much more for Military use)

Not to stray from the point, but I'd guess that there really is a black market for radioactive materials. The reason for that would not be for "dirty bombing terrorist acts", but because some nations block production in other countries. Prohibitions don't work, and often have an opposite result from the intention.

Iran for example was the target of a massive amount of espionage and insurgency trying to destroy their production, even though their enrichment was just enough for medical purposes (repeatedly verified by UN inspectors). And if you are one of the "Iran is Evil" believers, pray tell us who that so called aggressive nation hell bent on the destruction of Israel and takeover of the world has attacked in the last 200 years? They had to defend themselves against a US armed Saddam Hussein, but did not start that conflict.

With that much money being spent to stop Iran from production, what do you think a Hospital in Cambodia does? Argue when the US yells "terrorist!" and try to produce their own anyway with incredible cost and risk, or buy it elsewhere. Probably the latter, especially when it's probably cheaper and faster to acquire on a black market without all the red tape.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about a month ago | (#47661157)

That actually sounds quite lucid. Have you given up on your "the US government faked 9/11, set fire to a building next to ground zero, and there was no plane at the Pentagon" conspriracy theories?

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

shiftless (410350) | about a month ago | (#47682521)

Why would he do that? Those theories are correct.

Have you given up on your idiotic "Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field" or "Building 7 collapsed at free fall speed due to fire damage" conspiracy theories?

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a month ago | (#47683769)

Wow. The farce is strong in this one.
The thing about really hot steel is it gets soft enough to bend into horseshoes - if you are too young to have seen it for real maybe you've seen it on TV. Pull something out from the bottom and you get things falling at freefall speed. Why would it fall slowly anyway? That makes zero sense. It's not a tree.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

shiftless (410350) | about a month ago | (#47687077)

Buildings do not fall at free fall speed into their own footprint because of a "fire." It does not happen, ever. And furthermore, news organizations do not announce the collapse of said building 20 minutes in advance, unless they already planned for it to fall. Pull your head out of your asshole and stop being a useful idiot. 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. Government. Failing to realize this FACT does not make you smart, it makes you a naive fool.

I notice you didn't mention the "aircraft" in Pennsylvania, did you? The one that supposedly hit the ground so fast all it left was a smoking crater, with no wreckage because it all vaporized on impact? Only a clueless, naive shit like yourself (the average idiot American) would believe such an obvious lie.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a month ago | (#47687315)

Cool - capitals turn a very strange and outright deranged opinion into a FACT - I'll have to remember that one :)
I'm sure there's plenty of footage on the net of building fires if you want to apply some reality instead of making shit up. When things fall they don't go down like feathers.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

shiftless (410350) | about a month ago | (#47700353)

very strange and outright deranged opinion

What I just told you is the truth. If your head is shoved too far up your own asshole to understand it, that is a sign you are delusional, not mine.

Anyone who trust the U.S. government's side of the story is a fucking idiot. Full stop.

I'm sure there's plenty of footage on the net of building fires if you want to apply some reality instead of making shit up.

Show me a video of ONE building which collapsed like WTC7, because of an out of control fire.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697539)

It didn't collapse at free fall speed. Seriously - look at the videos. There's clearly debris falling faster than the building. It fell pretty quickly, but quickly doesn't mean "free fall speed". Moreover, I'm pretty sure there was debris in the field from the plane in PA.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47663181)

pray tell us who that so called aggressive nation hell bent on the destruction of Israel and takeover of the world has attacked in the last 200 years?

The United States, for one. Embassies being considered sovereign territory of the owner nation.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

Smurf (7981) | about a month ago | (#47667869)

(...) how they believe those countries can achieve medical procedures we use every day in hospitals and labs (not including Universities and other research facilities) without radioactive isotopes. Things like X-Rays, Chemotherapy, CT scans, and everything else found in a Nuclear Medicine office (which is a pretty long list).

I agree with pretty much everything you said, but you picked up precisely the wrong examples.

X-ray machines and CT scanners (which are essentially an x-ray tube [wikipedia.org] and detector mounted on a rotating gantry) do not contain any radioactive material whatsoever. Yes, they emit ionizing radiation (in the form of x-rays), but it is not originating from a radionuclide. Other types of tomographic scanners such as PET and SPECT do employ radionuclides injected into the patient, but you precisely didn't mention those.

And chemotherapy... again, that uses chemical agents to treat cancer, not radioactivity. Yes, there is radiotherapy, which in some cases (but not always) relies on radionuclides to deliver an ionizing radiation dose, but again you failed to mention it.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a month ago | (#47668091)

TFA uses a generalization therefor my rebuttal required a similar generalization, at least in my opinion. Technically you are correct, however I did not think it relevant to get into the difference between radiation used in therapy and radiation used in detection.

Re:Fear Mongering continued (1)

Smurf (7981) | about a month ago | (#47668147)

You are not getting it: It has nothing to do with therapy vs. detection.

The article talks about contraband of radioactive materials. I gave you examples where radioactive materials are used both in therapy (certain kinds of radiotherapy for cancer) and in medical imaging (PET and SPECT). You mentioned none of these examples.

Instead, you gave three examples (x-rays, CT scanners, chemotherapy) none of which use radioactive materials.

Thus you used completely invalid examples to illustrate a very valid point.

Re:Often? Black market? WTF? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a month ago | (#47661817)

spot on. I mean sure, there must be some "market" as in someone at some point has wanted to buy some material and someone at some point wanted to sell some. Personally I suspect the market is a lot more a few people who "have some radioactive material and see dollar signs in their eyes" and thus might seek out a scientist to check it out than any sort of real market.

Just because someone has something he thinks he can sell to someone doesn't mean he has or ever will have a buyer.

Re:Often? Black market? WTF? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month ago | (#47663389)

And terrorists would want either something REALLY hot for a dirty bomb

Is that true?

Say your goal was purely to scare the crap out of people and cause panic -- the low hanging fruit of terrorism. You don't actually need to do anything with lasting effects. If you suddenly make a high visibility target read with a trivial amount of radioactivity, you'll pretty much accomplish your goals, wouldn't you? One can only assume this kind of this is actively monitored.

By the time people figure out it's not life threatening, you've already achieved your goal. Do it a few more times, and people will be so scared that when the microwave goes bing they'll run screaming.

Sure, you can cause more actual damage with something else, but the psychological damage is going to be vast and widespread.

Do you really think this wouldn't mobilize a lot of people and generally wreak havoc? I'm picturing FEMA and a whole ton of agencies going nuts over this.

Like most people, I know pretty much nothing about dirty bombs. But even if you couldn't do any real damage, you can still create a hell of a response.

Now, of course, it's entirely possible these 'lesser' things can't actually do that. As I said, I know nothing about it. But, it seems like you could cause a lot of panic, and that seems like it's as valuable as doing the real thing.

Old news (5, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | about a month ago | (#47659939)

We know that it is happening since 1985, there had been at least a case of a scientist (E.Brown, if i'm not mistaken) smuggling plutonium to give it to libyan terrorists, or even doing very dangerous experiments with it.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660077)

I was going to be upset if there wasn't this allusion. Good work.

+1 Batcat Cookie

Re:Old news (1)

sinij (911942) | about a month ago | (#47660123)

This is not a good time to joke around, we need to get back to serious discussion.

Re:Old news (5, Funny)

gargleblast (683147) | about a month ago | (#47660147)

I'm sure that in 1985 plutonium was available in every corner drug store, but in 2014 it's a little hard to come by.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660367)

Only because it's so useful to make flying cars and reflective sunglasses.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47661455)

Then where's my damn hoverboard?

Re:Old news (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about a month ago | (#47663113)

Jokes aside, it's kind of interesting to see how much our views of Radiation have changed.

1985? no, but 1965? The first thing that popped to mind were old Uranium toy kits [cracked.com] .

I remember a podcast where they used to use a fluoroscope (live X-Ray basically) to size your shoes - see bone structure in real time. A family friend has bad feet because they used a huge dose of radiation to kill his athlete's foot.

Re:Old news (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a month ago | (#47663177)

I'm sure that in 1985 plutonium was available in every corner drug store, but in 2014 it's a little hard to come by.

Except you don't need it anymore in 2014. You just bring your car in and get a Mr. Fusion conversion. Just turns your food and other waste into pure energy, no more requirement for a nuclear reactor.

And while you're there, you might as well take it in for a hovercar conversion.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47662965)

Didn't the Lybian terrorists give it to him? And he gave them back pinball machine parts? what website is this again?

Re:Old news (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a month ago | (#47664023)

Except Brown got Plutonium FROM the terrorists and gave them a box of pinball parts. He used the plutonium to power the flux capacitor for time travel.

Thats why they tried to kill him.

My glowing review (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47659959)

So I bought some Plutonium-186 from Frederick Hallam. Performed exactly as promised. Used to make Electron Pump. Excellent energy source. Would purchase again.

Stop using the pump... (1)

Grog6 (85859) | about a month ago | (#47661605)

The pump is Bad... :)

Re:My glowing review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47671719)

You have Plutonium 186?

That must be some of the lightest Plutonium in the world, how do you keep it stable?

Is this a problem? (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month ago | (#47659983)

There's a lot of legitimate uses for elements and isotopes, and I can see people not wanting to get all mixed up with government red tape. Do we have a very good reason to ban trade or ownership of THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF MATTER? I mean, I could see restrictions on the few isotopes that could be used to make nuclear weapons, but other than that it's just another hazardous material.

Re:Is this a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660017)

Right or wrong, the increased red tape has really stopped a lot of people from doing radiolabeling studies, which is probably the best way to get accurate estimates of number of molecules binding a cell, etc. That type of quantitative data is rarer and rarer these days.

Re:Is this a problem? (2)

nbauman (624611) | about a month ago | (#47660447)

There's a lot of legitimate uses for elements and isotopes, and I can see people not wanting to get all mixed up with government red tape. Do we have a very good reason to ban trade or ownership of THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF MATTER? I mean, I could see restrictions on the few isotopes that could be used to make nuclear weapons, but other than that it's just another hazardous material.

The main "legitimate" use of radioactive isotopes is in medical tests and cancer treatments. In the U.S. breast cancer patients with a good prognosis can avoid chemotherapy by using radiation instead, and prostate cancer patients can avoid surgery. It's also used to treat painful metastases.

The U.S./U.N. boycott of Iraq created a lot of problems in Iraq for Iraqi doctors who were trying to treat cancer patients. Iraqi doctors (most of whom were trained in the U.K. and hated Saddam Hussein) were complaining in the British Medical Journal and The Lancet that they couldn't get radioactive isotopes, because the people who were running the embargo didn't know the difference between medical isotopes and weapons isotopes. (The "humanitarian exceptions" to the boycott were a cynical farce. The Wall Street Journal once sent a reporter down to the Iraq border where the embargo inspectors were arbitrarily rejecting things like batteries in childrens' toys.)

So the doctors were writing that they had to give patients much longer exposures because of the short half lives of medical isotopes. With weak isotopes, a breast cancer patient would have to spend an entire day on an operating table, rather than half an hour or an hour as we do in the U.S. Eventually the medical isotopes wouldn't work at all.

A few of the medical journals calculated that the embargo cost about 500,000 Iraqi lives, mostly children. One of the biggest hits was that they weren't allowed to import chemicals for water purification, such as chlorine, at all. So they didn't have clean drinking water and the incidence of infant deaths caused by diarrhea soared to third-world levels, where it's a major cause of infant death. As you may recall. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that the deaths were worth it. http://fair.org/extra-online-a... [fair.org]

Iraq used to have the best health care system in the Arab/Persian middle east, free to Iraqis, and patients used to come from around the Arab world. The Iraq war destroyed it. George W. Bush appointed a right-to-life Republican as head of the Iraqi health care system, and his idea of de-Bathification was to privatize it and charge fees. I think Bush also fired all of the doctors who were members of the Bathist party. Bush's appointee did more harm to the Iraqi health care system than the bombs. After security broke down, the Shiites started killing the Sunni doctors and vice versa.

If there is a just God, Bush will go to Hell for destroying the Iraqi health care system. And his torment will be spending eternity with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Re:Is this a problem? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47663617)

George W. Bush appointed a right-to-life Republican as head of the Iraqi health care system, and his idea of de-Bathification was to privatize it and charge fees.

Part of American Imperialism includes having capitalism and the values of the American religious right foisted on you.

Same for foreign aid.

Because America is ran by narrow minded assholes on behalf of corporations and religious idiots.

Excuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660071)

Honestly this all sounds like a badly written excuse for persecuting scientists who offer inconvenient truths by calling them terrorists whenever it suits them. If we're lucky it is just part of their "keep fear alive" brigade trying to gin up nonexistent threats anyway they can, like "cyberwar".

There has not been any radioactive terror to date (2)

aepervius (535155) | about a month ago | (#47660083)

The black market for radioactive material is crushingly predominately for military or civilian usage of country which have difficulty of getting the material by normal means for a variety of reason. Not terror. In fact let us count the incidents :
1) two incidents with the Chechen burying something in Russia in both case it was source which were orphaned.

2) 2 counts of some intelligence source pretending al quaeda or similar wanting to do radiological bomb (among them Jose padilla which was not even charged for that ! It tells you how much evidence or even capacity the guy had for that).
3) Russia Killing somebody using polonium. Oh wait that's not terror that's assassination by a major country

That's it. NONE of those involved scientist smuggling radioactive material. So why the heck such story come up on regular basis , when it is quite certain that the black market for radioactive material is NOT for terror.

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660139)

Wow, dude. You need to do real research. You clearly didn't even bother reading the article, which gave incidents much more serious then you mention.

The IAEA keeps a database of incidents. Here's a hit from a quick Google search.

http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull461/illicit_nuclear_trafficking_3.html

Between the period 1993 to 2003 alone there were 540 confirmed illicit trafficking incidents. Of those 540, 18 involved highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

And that was 2003. We've had another decade since then.

Most incidents aren't reported in the regular news cycle. By the time an incident becomes public knowledge too much time has past for regular people to care. So the only way to understand the actual threat is by following the research. The 24-hour news cycle and political pundits (scare mongers, peaceniks) aren't going to provide anything even remotely related to the facts.

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660877)

Wow, dude. You need to do real research. You clearly didn't even bother reading the article, which gave incidents much more serious then you mention.

Wow, dude. To do actual research you have to read and understand text and your research clearly shows that capability lacking. Trafficking incindents aren't acts of terror. Parent says that of the few reported incidents where humans were harmed by purpose there was no smuggling involved. That doesn't lead to there was no trafficking as the material is also needed for a lot of medical stuff and some people have a hard time getting it on the free market, because they maybe could eventually use it for acts of terrorism.

Following your logic:
All people who smuggle alcohol are also terrorists, because it is used in Molotov cocktails.

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47661391)

Depends on the recipe for your molotov cocktail ... I use gasoline & 2-stroke oil, works perfect :-)

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47662093)

No, you need to use ALCOHOL for a Molotov cocktail. Absolut!

Mostly vodka, but mix in some strong proletarian liquors from countries with active communist factions circa 1938 (grappa, gin, calvados), serve chilled, garnish with a slice of lenon, and consume with revolutionary fervor.

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (1)

Anonymice (1400397) | about a month ago | (#47660241)

On the contrary, I fear the biggest nuclear threat in the modern world is from individual "terror" groups. In the age of Mutually Assured Destruction, the only people with nothing to lose are those who can't be tied to a specific region. If a group of unaffiliated individuals attack a country, that country has no recourse for nuclear retaliation.

I highly recommend the documentary "Countdown to Zero" [imdb.com] , it recounts the stories of a couple of extremist organisations caught in the process of acquiring nuclear material, and the frightening thing is that most of these cases were caught by accident, ie. luck. And if those were found by accident, we have no idea how many transactions may have been successful.

To quote [chicagotribune.com] a Russian military prosecutor with regards to the tracking & security of nuclear material during the collapse of the Soviet Union:

"potatoes were guarded better"

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660307)

I think the more important thing is the trafficking of brainpower, and even releasing public domain information, that anyone in the world can use to build a bomb from dirt and rock or even seawater nearby, if they really wanted to. It's better to take such people out before they get lost, and to control information stored on computer harddrives, and put every file there is in the world on the cloud, ban any personal data storage devices such as usb keychains, instead have everyone use smartphones or computing devices that refuse to function unless connected to the hive and subject themselves to logging and monitoring. This way we can always see who reads about nuclear materials, who designs nuclear materials, and what not. Yay. How about we run into space onto space stations, and once you got 7 billion people in space and 7 billion down here on Earth, nobody will give a fuck if people down on Earth start a mutually assured destruction nuclear holocaust war, because life will survive just fine in outer space. Similarly with biotech getting out of hand with crazy infections that wipe out all life. The only problem is artificial intelligence, which can come and chase you down anywhere in the solar system, and that kinda requires cloud storage and monitoring of all computing technologies, while we build a humongous spaceship to travel to far stars, for a 70,000 year journey, or so, for a few lightyears, so, hopefully, if 35,000 years down the road AI appears back on Earth, they are not gonna be smart enough to travel much faster closer to the speed of light, and you could safely escape AI, at least for a while. Unless, the AI is really smart and deceiving, and you keep in touch with Terra, or Earth, your communication signal taking almost a year or two to make it back and forth (that's quite a lag, as in hello, anyone there, 2 years later the reply comes, yeah,) so the AI might have taken over and fake it as if they did not, and you can never find out from the communications what to really believe, especially if you're not cleverer than the cleverer than you AI. AI, along the lines of the movie "Screamers" 1996 is the only thing humanity and other life needs to worry about, for everything else, including nuclear holocausts and global biotech weapon epidemics wiping everybody out, the solution is simple: live on space stations, too, that way you don't keep all your eggs in one basket.
Blah, over the 25 post for my karma level, as sillybilly, must post as anonymous user. So here, I'll sign it like a letter, or like on wikipedia:(and now it does not want whitespace, to push the sig to the bottom right, hmm)

And I shall forever remain
your faithful servant, Sire,
Yours truly, &c
                              sillybilly

Anno Domini MMXIV,
Dies Mercurri, Augustus XIII
IV:XI Ante Meridiam (GMT)
                                                                                                     

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47660337)

Also, it's like as long as other countries have nuclear weapons, almost any country in the world has an excuse to have some too, for defense purposes, not to actually use it and attack, but just to have some so they don't get kicked around by the big boys. So the best thing would be to outlaw any nuclear weapons and warheads in the world, and then you can argue with the little countries too, that you are not gonna steam roll them nuclearly, you're going to do that with conventional and environmentally friendly and kosher weapons that kill without pain, but more like they put you in a state of ecstasy, then you fall asleep, and never wake up. That'd be like the ideal weapon, kill other people by letting them have an orgasm right before they die, then they get knocked asleep and never wake up. Better than a final feast and what not, how about a final masturbation, for true happiness, to the deathrow inmates, or unlucky folks about to die on a battlefield. Conventional weapons with bullets cause too much pain, and a couple seconds of minutes of awareness and suffering, that's a horrible way to go, somebody should come up with really good ways to die. A new ballgame in town. Instead of tear gas that hurts, spread hallucinogens that put people into a state of ecstasy and euphoria, but they loose their self control and things like gait. Fuck nuclear weapons. Even the terrorists should abide by these principles of least harm done while killing, no matter how badly they may hate the other person's guts. And then heck, I wouldn't even mind getting killed like that. That's what you'd call environmentally friendly and humane weapons

And I shall forever remain
your faithful servant, Sire,
Yours truly, &c
                                                              sillybilly

Anno Domini MMXIV,
Dies Mercurri, Augustus XIII
IV:XXIV Ante Meridiam (GMT)

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about a month ago | (#47661101)

If a group of unaffiliated individuals attack a country, that country has no recourse for nuclear retaliation.

Some governments, at least including the US, various UK states such as Canada and Australia, the PRC, and some continental European powers, have had agents working full time on just getting samples of radionucleotides from various fission plants, and analyzing those samples so that, if those nucleotides turn up in a dirty bomb or worse, an actual fission device, they can tell just where they were made by differences in various isotopic ratios, trace elements, and such. Knowing the source does not always mean those nations would retaliate against an attack from a group of apparently non-affiliated individuals, but it's certainly one piece of evidence in building a case for retaliation that would satisfy at least part of the international community. Nations have some interest therefore in reporting thefts of materials internationally, and various governments have some interest in setting up conditions for such reporting (i.e. in some cases, assuring the reporting country this will be classified and not released, and so hopefully not available for political candidate's uses.)
        I'd say that against groups such as you describe, it may not be possible to respond with nuclear retaliation, or recourses may be limited. It may also be desirable to respond with something less damaging to innocent bystanders, other nations, and the environment, even if a nuclear option is possible. This could go anywhere from a use of actual boosted fission devices within hours of the first event, to a much more measured response, possibly weeks or even longer after the first event.
          By the way, probably the most workable term for 'unaffiliated individuals' in US sources is "non-state actors", relatively short, straight-forward and to the point. In the US, emergency response teams called NEST would be responsible for the first stages of gathering samples from a dirty bomb incident or similar event, but their primary purpose is to stop such events before there is a detonation or risk to the public, if that's still possible when they become involved. NEST now stands for Nuclear Emergency Support Team, but in some older sources, the S stood for Search instead of Support. Calling one a NEST Team is redundant, but occasionally done by the media. NESTs are authorized to respond to incidents both inside and outside US borders, but just what that means in practice is unclear..

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47661365)

One wonders if anyone who would sell nuclear materials to a terrorist organization, or would sell to nations whose behavior most of the world disapproves of, might attempt to modify the profile/fingerprint of nuclear material, prior to sale, to make it resemble the profile/fingerprint of nuclear material produced by an enemy state, to implicate them or at least cast doubt on the true origin of the materials.

Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47664103)

And if those were found by accident, we have no idea how many transactions may have been successful.

Probably about none, since there have been no successful or attempted nuclear or radiological terrorist attacks. And if they have the material, it seems unlikely they'd sit on it and risk being discovered, rather than using it.

Plutonium (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a month ago | (#47660093)

I know of a scientist who smuggled a small amount of plutonium into the US. It was needed for an XRF instrument.

I wonder how much of this goes on for legit scientific investigations simply because the legal channels are so difficult to deal with.

Re:Plutonium (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a month ago | (#47661971)

That XRF instrument was just a bunch of old pinball machine parts!

Re:Plutonium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47662111)

I know a bunch of tourists that inadvertently smuggled in a quantity of Potassium-40.

This outrage must be stopped! From now on, tourists must leave their bones at home.

Re:Plutonium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47663251)

It's worse than that. Radioactive potassium-40 is routinely smuggled into this country hidden in shipments of bananas.

Money trumps all (1)

norculf (146473) | about a month ago | (#47660185)

By the same logic you could prevent technologists from assisting the intelligence community. But the government has tons of money to offer, so it's not practical to cut off the supply of talent. Perhaps some sort of blacklist would work...

translation (0)

silfen (3720385) | about a month ago | (#47660553)

Here's what he is really saying: "We need to spread FUD about another non-issue to make even more funding and power come our way for anti-terrorism efforts."

Sting operation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47662085)

Well, what law enforcement could do is pose as testing scientists. Have a gossied up ATM and call it a "mass spectrometer" in which people can test their materials for a fee, by inserting the sample into the machine. The machine reports that the material is fake. Then if they perform any obvious crime they can be arrested on the spot, or if they're very crafty, the authorities still have record of them possessing whatever material they put in the machine, and the authorities can have it tested for real at their leisure.

Complicity in smuggling radioactive materials? (2)

lippydude (3635849) | about a month ago | (#47664525)

"Although the complicity of scientists in the smuggling of radioactive materials has been a long-standing concern"

First I've heard of this, what are the names of these scientists caught smuggling of radioactive materials? I do believe we're in greater danger from nation states selling actual nuclear bombs to other nation states.

Re:Complicity in smuggling radioactive materials? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month ago | (#47665067)

What are the names of any nations that have sold nuclear bombs to others?

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