Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Litvinenko Again

Britain demands the extradition of Litvinenko suspects. Russia is angered, says the Telegraph. Popular Science says it highlights the role of hi-tech poisoning in international intrigue. Samizdata claims the Crown Prosecution Service knew that extradition would be rejected by Russia but still went ahead anyway. Fistful of Euros says it will be incoming PM Gordon Brown's first test.

There were rumors that Litvinenko was actually the buyer of a polonium shipment to be used in a dirty bomb attack on Britain, not the simple victim of a KGB poison plot. I wonder whether that scenario figures at all?

11 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

Sorry, Wretch, my last leadoff OT!
---
RWE,
Saw you for the first time in a while in an earlier thread, so thought I'd ask:

It's been more than a year now since I lost a couple of friends in an Air Ambulance accident, but last time I checked, the FAA still didn't have a report.

My Question:
Can a Cessna 414 maintain altitude with gear down and flaps set for landing on one engine?
This one stalled on approach and augered in.
Link
---
Habu and I were comparing notes on the number of Race Drivers killed in lightplanes and it was scary!
Then add Rock and Rollers,
Doctors, and the terrible record of ambulances
(44 incidents over a 5 year span in which there was no loss of life on the majors!)
think I'll fly United.

5/22/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger jms said...

There's only one reason why millions of dollars of polonium could possibly have been in transit in the black market. Polonium is used in nuclear initiators. It's the key ingredient in the trigger for nuclear weapons. It's used for virtually nothing else.

It's also generated in nuclear reactors. So, if you have an atomic bombs program, but don't have any nuclear reactors to generate polonium, then you have to purchase some polonium on the black market to ensure that your nuclear weapons detonate properly.

Now which entities are out there that:

1) Are trying to build nuclear weapons.
2) Do not have a nuclear reactor (and are possibly relying on centrifuges to generate their fissionable components.)

Next, Polonium has a very short half life. It's the last ingredient you purchase before your nuclear weapon is ready to use because it deteriorates so quickly.
Finally, if the object were to build a "dirty bomb", there are plenty of other sorts of nuclear materials that would make more sense to use. A "dirty bomb" is a psychological weapon. It results in hazmat trucks and area denial. It does not require something as exotic as polonium.

Using polonium for murder or a dirty bomb would be like using gold bricks as weights to sink garbage into the ocean. Sure it's physically possible, but anyone who says that that was their plan is a liar.

The big truth being concealed here is that by sheer luck on our part and stupidity on our enemy's part, a nuclear weapons program was disrupted. Britain cannot publically accuse Russia of allowing the covert transfer of nuclear weapons components into Britain because that would be an act of war that would have to be acknowledged. However, they want to get their hands on the other participants in the plot for vigorous questioning.

So the only diplomatic way to proceed is to engage the convenient fiction that this case is an ordinary case of murder.

But it isn't. It's a screaming alarm bell that some entity has nearly completed, or has completed nuclear weapons, and is looking for the detonation material to deploy them.

5/23/2007 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/23/2007 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

R I G H T.
...and the Bush administration isn't using
"terrorism" to keep us terrified!

Obviously, you have not been listening carefully enough to Rosie.

Some people never learn.

5/23/2007 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I'm not sure if the poison/murder angle even makes sense.

There are a million ways to kill somebody that do not involve highly expensive radioactive materials and the inevitable international alarm. Ditto for "killing and sending a message." Who in their right mind would go for polonium? To me, it sounds like "sharks with frickin' laser beams" when a gun to the head would do.

5/23/2007 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Db2m said...

Somebody get Arlen Specter's take. No doubt he has the "official" explanation.

5/23/2007 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

MOVE PAST 'WAR ON TERROR'
Rosie Edwards

5/23/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Marin County:
"Who in their right mind would install linoleum?"

5/23/2007 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Debbie Schlussel

Meet Your "Moderate," "American" Muslim Neighbors: New Study Shows U.S. Muslims Are Extremists

HOprah Watch: Are Pigs Flying? Oprah Accepts Trip to ISRAEL

5/23/2007 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

JMS, excellent informative comment. The suggestion that the mere presense of polonium implies something about nuclear weapons development is critical. I don't think many people would have guessed that.

I did find a counter-argument in Wikipedia that I hope you might address.


210Po is widely used in industry, and readily available with little regulation or restriction. In the US, a tracking system run by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be implemented in 2007 to register purchases of more than 16 curies of polonium 210 (enough to make up 5,000 lethal doses). The IAEA "is said to be considering tighter regulations... There is talk that it might tighten the polonium reporting requirement by a factor of 10, to 1.6 curies." 33

33^ Peter D. Zimmerman (2006). The Smoky Bomb Threat. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2006-12-19.

5/23/2007 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

jms -

wherever do you get such ideas?

"Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions

The governors have authority over their own National Guard troops during state disasters, but the U.S. military takes command if the Guard is federalized by the president, such as in major crises such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The governors cannot command regular, active-duty forces.

This year’s Ardent Sentry-Northern Edge exercise, the biggest yet, will feature a nuclear-weapon explosion scenario that will involve deployment of more than 2,000 active-duty troops and almost 1,000 Guard members to Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Area in Indiana, Verga said. The National Guard’s series of training events known as Vigilant Guard, he noted, will be incorporated as part of the overall Ardent Sentry exercise. This year’s Ardent Sentry-Northern Edge exercise, the biggest yet, will feature a nuclear-weapon explosion scenario that will involve deployment of more than 2,000 active-duty troops and almost 1,000 Guard members to Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Area in Indiana, Verga said. The National Guard’s series of training events known as Vigilant Guard, he noted, will be incorporated as part of the overall Ardent Sentry exercise.

5/23/2007 01:35:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger