Nuclear Weapons

What Could Go Wrong?

This should serve as a healthy portion of Humble Pie, but it probably won't. Unfortunately.

The United States could only account for 1,160 out of 17,500 kilograms of Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU) -- weapon-usable nuclear material -- exported to 27 countries in response to a 1992 congressional mandate, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week. [...]

In another disquieting revelation, the GAO pointed out that in the 55 visits from 1994 through 2010, U.S. teams found that countries who received nuclear components met international security guidelines only about 50 percent of the time.

"The agencies have not systematically visited countries believed to be holding the highest proliferation risk quantities of U.S. nuclear material, or systematically revisited facilities not meeting international physical security guidelines in a timely manner," the GAO report warned.

We can only account for 1,160 out of 17,500 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium, but don't worry, as long as the TSA continues coping a feel, preventing you from taking water and lotion onto the airplane, and forcing you to remove your shoes, we can assure your safety.

How can we lecture countries such as Iran, with any measure of credibility, while we can't even keep track of or properly secure our nuclear materials?

It should be noted that over the course of the last 9 months, the Republicans have repeatedly threatened the authority and the funding of the Department of Energy which is responsible for regulating such things. Some have even called for dissolving the Department of Energy and rolling its responsibilities into the Department of Defense, as if that would somehow improve things.

I have no doubt the Republican response to this would be something along the lines of "See? Government doesn't work. We should abolish the Department of Energy" while ignoring the fact that the agencies responsible for oversight of nuclear materials are woefully underfunded. And it's the Republicans who are the biggest warhawks concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions.