The Stuff Sam Nunn’s Nightmares Are Made Of

By now we can too readily imagine the horror of terrorists exploding a nuclear weapon in a major American city: the gutted skyscrapers, the melted cars, the charred bodies. For Sam Nunn, however, a new terror begins the day after. That’s when the world asks whether another bomb is out there. “If a nuclear bomb went off in Moscow or New York City or Jerusalem, any number of groups would claim they have another”, Nunn told me recently. These groups would make steep demands as intelligence officials scrambled to determine which claims were real. Panic would prevail. Even after the detonation of a small, crude weapon that inflicted less damage than the bomb at Hiroshima, Nunn suggested, “The psychological damage would be incalculable. It would be a slow, step-by-step process to regain confidence. And the question will be, Why didn’t we take steps to prevent this? We will have a whole list of things we wish we’d done.“

Nunn thinks of those things every time he picks up a newspaper. When, for instance, he reads about the arrest of a Russian man who, in a sting operation, tried to sell weapons-grade uranium – a reminder of a possible black market in nuclear materials and of the poor security at facilities in the former Soviet Union. Or when he sees news about Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, which could set off a wave of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and thus significantly raise the possibility that terrorists will someday acquire a bomb. And despite the apparent diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea earlier this month, in which the North Koreans agreed to begin dismantling their nuclear facilities in return for fuel and other aid, Nunn, who finds the deal encouraging, remains concerned since North Korea’s unpredictable, cash-starved dictatorship still retains perhaps half a dozen nuclear bombs, and the ingredients to make more.


– This article is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, recently, a friend of mine suggested the website :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

– Research thx to Tony B.

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