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Subject:  Re: Out of hand Date:  9/16/2001  7:59 PM
Author:  RJMason Number:  14393 of 27876

RJ: Why would it [a nuclear weapon] be harder to get in than a planeload of drugs?

warisproduct: First, a nuke is much harder to get.

I agree, but that doesn't answer the question. Rick supposes that obtaining a nuke is comparatively feasible, and the hard step is getting it into the country. I don't see why.

warisproduct: Second, most drug smugglers have insider connections which allow them to bypass satellites. A nuclear smuggler may pose as a drug dealer to make the necessary connections, but no one in the NSA is going to give out info to someone carrying a nuclear device.

That makes no sense. If most drug smugglers are privy to when satellites are passing over (which I don't necessarily believe) then the terrorist just has to find some drug smuggler and pay them for that information.

Anyway, I think you're giving too much credit to satellites.

warisproduct: Third, isn't radioactive material a lot easier to find than cocaine?

Apples and oranges. You need different tools to find cocaine and radioactive material. I suspect our customs service has more drug-sniffing dogs and chemical-explosive-sniffing dogs and relatively few plutonium-sniffing dogs (or electronic equivalents) but I'm guessing about that.

warisproduct: Can't we see this from space?

No. Plutonium-239, for example, is primarily an alpha emitter, and because alpha particles are charged and massive, they're very easily blocked. So it's far from trivial to detect from outside whether a cardboard box has plutonium in it. You'd have to open the box, or probe it with X-rays or some other radiation of your own. Can't do that from three hundred miles up.
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