Negligence was involved in all 73 incidents last year in which radioactive substances reported went missing, concludes a new expert report on nuclear trafficking.
The report finding by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies could suggest there is much work yet to be done in international efforts to improve security around radiological substances that might be seized by terrorists and used to construct a so-called “dirty bomb.” This type of device could combine radiological materials and explosives to contaminate populated areas.
The study, published on Wednesday, examined incidents in which both atomic and non-nuclear radioactive materials went unaccounted for. Of the 153 documented incidents last year, 92 percent involved non-nuclear radioactive substances utilized in the medical and industrial fields, according to a summary of the report’s findings.
“Few incidents involved the most dangerous materials, and none were reported to have involved material that was nuclear weapons-usable in form or quantity,” the summary states.
To reduce the prospects of future incidents stemming from negligence, the report recommends “improved training in nuclear materials security and enhanced end-user accountability.”
Leaders from 53 nations are gathering in The Hague, Netherlands, on Monday and Tuesday to review the current status of global efforts to better lock down vulnerable radioactive and nuclear materials. Some experts have criticized the biennial Nuclear Security Summit process — which began with President Obama hosting the first such gathering in 2010 — for focusing too much on atomic substances at the expense radiological sources.
While a nuclear terrorism attack could result in a much greater loss of life than a radiological strike, most analysts agree it would be easier for extremists to acquire the ingredients they need to build a radiological dirty bomb than get a hold of a nuclear weapon.
The Center for Nonproliferation Studies analysis relied on a database it built that collected information drawn from foreign regulatory agencies, specialized Internet search engines and international news reports. It is separate from a database kept by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, which also tracks incidents of lost or stolen plutonium, uranium and other radiological sources.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog documented roughly 140 incidents last year of lost or unauthorized utilization of atomic and radioactive substances, Reuters reported on Friday. It is not clear if the IAEA database and the CNS database were using different methodology for collecting or assessing information.
What We're Following See More »
Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."
Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."