Monday, November 08, 2004

The nuclear weapons black market

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | UN warns of nuclear terror race
Mr ElBaradei said the IAEA's investigations into Libya and Iran's suspected weapons programmes had revealed an extensive black market for radioactive materials.

There had been around 630 confirmed incidents of trafficking in nuclear or other radioactive materials since 1993, he said.

"We have a race against time because this was something we were not prepared for," he said.

"We need to do all we can to work on the new phenomenon called nuclear terrorism, which was sprung on us after 9/11 when we realised terrorists had become more sophisticated and had shown an interest in nuclear and radioactive material," he added.

Sprung on us? Not prepared for?

ElBaradei is a smart guy, so presumably this is either diplomatic code or a translation error. The Clinton administration was very worried about this -- and they weren't the first. It is true that the public learned of the Khan operation only after 9/11 -- but of course that was Pakistani -- not Iranian or Libyan.

Yeah, it's diplomatic speak.

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