Defence: Global nuclear stockpile warning

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The Independent Online
More than 2,000 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium are stockpiled in military stores around the world, often with lax controls at both national and international level, say the authors of a book published this week. The majority of this material is surplus to military requirements and cannot be used for other applications. In addition, new reprocessing plants in France and the UK are dramatically increasing the supply of plutonium which could be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

The authors, all nuclear scientists working at a senior level, draw particular attention to the situation in Russia and the former Soviet Union, where controls on the materials are less than stringent. Since just a few kilogrammes of plutonium are needed to make a bomb, the threat of theft by agents of non-nuclear countries, or terrorists, must be taken seriously, they argue.

Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996: World Inventories, Capabilities and Policies. Albright, Berkhout and Walker, Oxford University Press