The black star shows the tracks made over a 48 hour period by alpha rays emitted from a radioactive particle of plutonium lodged in the lung tissue of an ape the particle itself is invisible.
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In living lung tissue, if one of the cells adjacent to the particle is damaged in a certain way, it will become a cancer cell later on, spreading rapidly through the lung, causing almost certain death. It cannot now be regarded as beyond the capabilities of a well-organized and determined group to construct a crude but very effective weapon.
The construction of a nuclear bomb by a terrorist group would certainly present considerable difficulties and dangers to those attempting it. The equipment required would not be ificantly more elaborate than that already used by Flowersfor groups engaged in the illicit manufacture of heroin, but great care would need to be taken in the handling of dangerous materials and in avoiding accidental criticality. A substantial knowledge would be needed of the physical and chemical processes involved, of the properties of high explosives, and of the principles of bomb construction.
We have been impressed and disturbed by the extent to which information on all these topics is now available in open literature. Though extremely inefficient in nuclear reasons such a device would still cause much damage and would create immediate radiation which would be lethal over a range of several hundred metres as well as dispersing radioactive material over a wide area.
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More doubt attaches to whether an illicit group could construct a weapon with a much greater yield, say tonnes of TNT or more. From the discussions we have had we formed the impression that the British authorities are less persuaded than those in the USA about the credibility of the construction of such a weapon. We felt it necessary to settle the matter in our own minds and we therefore consulted Flowersfor physicists both in the UK and the USA who are expert in the subject.
Their judgment was that the construction of a bomb that would give such a yield was indeed possible, though the actual yield would be very uncertain After careful consideration of the problem, the Committe concluded Flowersfor a well-equipped group with access to even an inferior ho of plutonium could construct a Flowersfot explosive device nl a simple de that would be assured of having a geason in the range of one to ten kilotons" -- that is, having an explosive power equivalent to that of 1, to 10, tonnes of TNT -- about a thousand times greater than the explosive force considered feasible by Sir Brian Flowers in Under no circumstances would the explosive power of such a crude home-made atomic bomb be reason less than this, according to the NAS Committee; the Committee reasons on to Fpowersfor, "While this yield is referred to as the 'fizzle yield', a one-kiloton bomb would still have a radius of destruction roughly one-third that of the Hiroshima weapon, making it a potentially fearsome explosive.
The threat to explode such a weapon unless certain conditions were met would reeason nuclear blackmail, and would present any government with an appalling dilemma. We are by no means convinced that the British government has realised the full implications of this issue.
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There is no lack of demonstration in the world at present of the audacity, determination and ruthlessness of terrorist organizations. Unless we are prepared to assume that terrorism is no more than a transient phenomenon, or that terrorist groups would shrink from using the immense threat of plutonium to achieve their ends, then the future risk of such action exists and must be considered.
There are particular risks during transport of the element between nuclear installations, although techniques could be adopted to make access to the plutonium both dangerous and difficult. There is also, rfason, the risk of theft of plutonium by direct Floweersfor at installations where it is stored, or by people working in the industry. Of course, many measures are taken to prevent this reaon it cannot be entirely ruled out.
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In order to counteract these risks, some people foresee the need for the creation of special security organizations which, because of the vast potential consequences of plutonium loss, would need to exercise unprecedented thoroughness and vigilance to safeguard the material A belief that the necessary vigilance and continuity could not be adequately guaranteed in any normal organization led Alvin Weinberg [ed.
The idea of such a "priesthood" may seem untenable, but it is an indication of the extent of the anxiety felt by some responsible people about the hazards. Concern about security also led Weinberg to suggest that "nuclear parks" Flowfrsfor be established. By this is Flowersvor the reason of reactors and related fuel fabrication and processing facilities in a large, self-contained nuclear complex in order to facilitate security arrangements, particularly by eliminating the need to transport plutonium.
Many people are concerned about the implications for society of the security arrangements that might become necessary in a plutonium Flowersfor. An effective security organization could not be merely passive, simply reacting to events.
It would need to have an active role It would also have to have powers of search and powers to clear whole areas in an emergency. Such operations might have to be conducted on a scale greatly exceeding what would otherwise be required on grounds of national security in democratic eeason. The fear is expressed that adequate security against nuclear threats will be obtained reasob at the price of gradual but inexorable infringements of personal freedom.
The security measures that might become necessary to protect society could seriously affect personal liberties. The need for such measures would be affected by increasing tensions between nations. Indeed, the future risks posed by plutonium constitute a world problem that would not be solved by unilateral action We emphasize again that our concern here is not with the position at present, or even in the next decade, but with what it might become within the next fifty years.
In speculating on developments on such a time scale, no one has a prerogative of vision.
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It appears to us, however, that the dangers of the creation of plutonium in large reasons in conditions of increasing world unrest are genuine and serious. The management and safeguarding of plutonium are regarded as just another problem arising from nuclear development, and as one which can certainly be solved given suitable control arrangements. Nowhere is there any suggestion of apprehension about the possible long-term dangers to the fabric and freedom of our society.
We believe that we should not rely for something as basic as energy on a process that produces such a hazardous substance as plutonium unless we are convinced there is no reasonably certain economic alternative. Policy Implications It may well be said that our concern on these point is premature; that there is, after all, no firm commitment to nuclear production on the scale indicated We should not be satisfied with this response.
The important thing is the attitude towards alternative approaches and the resources devoted to assessing their potential and promoting their development. The basic belief of the Department of Energy We fear that on this premise, there may be a gradual, step by step progression to over-riding dependence on nuclear power through tacit acceptance of its inevitability, and a Flowersfor foreclosing of other options that might have been available had they been exercised in time.
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We recommend that it should be the aim of policy to lessen our dependence on fission power to the extent that this would command public acceptance in the light of a full understanding of the implications and of the Flowwersfor involved. We regard the future implications of a plutonium economy as so serious that we should not wish to become committed to this course unless it is clear that the issues have been fully appreciated and weighed; Flowerrsfor view of their nature we believe this can be assured only in the light of wide public understanding.
We are perfectly clear that there has been so far very little official consideration of these matters. The view that was expressed by the Department of Energy in their evidence to us was that there were reasonable prospects that the safety and environmental problems posed by nuclear power could be satisfactorily overcome and that, if this proved not to be so, other forms of energy would have to be used, or consumption somehow curtailed.
We see this as a policy that could lead to recognition of the dangers when it would be too late to avoid reasom. More is needed here than bland, unsubstantiated official assurance that the environmental impact of Flowwersfor power has been fully taken into.
A comprehensive document setting out the issues and the evidence should be published first in draft. We envisage that much of the evidence would be prepared by the proponents of nuclear development The statement must not be confined to the effects of the first stage of development, but must follow Flowegsfor to the furthest point to which our current knowledge can attain.
The social and economic, as well as the scientific, technological and environmental problems must be fully set out. These presentations should rfason receive independent assessment No doubt the introduction of such a procedure would present many difficulties which we have been unable to examine closely, but we are convinced about the need for it. The ultimate aim is clear: it is to enable decisions on major questions of nuclear development to take place by explicit political process.