back to article US WMD report: Dirty bombs, chem weapons are bunk

A US congressional investigation into terrorists and WMDs has concluded that there will be a WMD attack within five years unless prompt international action is taken. The report also effectively says that the only kinds of WMD worth worrying about are atomic bombs and biological weapons. Bob Graham and Jim Talent, both former …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Are these the same guys who

    Are these the same guys who said that a plane hitting a tall building was not a major problem

    as the building would not collapse.

    give me strength

  2. The Other Steve

    America, Fuck Yeah!

    "The two men and their associated commissioners and staff have since travelled the world, interviewing people "

    Please fill in the survey, delete options as appropriate.

    1) Do you plan to manufacture a WMD : Yes / Yes

    2) Do you plan to use it before : 2013 / 2013 / 2013

    "Well, it seems that the US must make more use of "soft power" and diplomatic efforts, seeking to stop countries from pursuing nuclear weapons programmes or civil nuclear power programmes which are dual-purposed as weapons production."

    And countries who don't like Team America, World Police will continue to tell them to stick it up their hairy Uncle Sams until it stops being the most awful two faced hypocrisy. If the yanks truly believe they are the only country on earth fit to be custodians of nuclear weapons, they're going to have to invade some more countries.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utter bulshhhhhit

    Synthesizing the virus DNA is not enough. You have to somehow make it to synthesize its proteins and reassemble itself. One can probably try to play this game to assemble a more patogenic variety of a known virus (flu vs Spanish Lady).

    However, assembling a whole virus de-novo is off the agenda even for the most advanced labs for a very long time. This is especially valid for the Smallpox virus which is so big that it is on the border of detection by optical microscopes. It has a large number of its own proteins and a very complex structure.

    Reassemble smallpox from DNA? Yeah, this guys are smoking some really cool stuff and not sharing it with the community.Where is the bong icon?

  4. jon


    To use a nuke anywhere on this planet against civilians would cause the world + dog to be against the alleged terrorist group - utterly eliminating any chance of succeeding in other goals. Even China and Russia would chip in because as they modernise and become capitalist countries, they become targets.

    At the moment you have the US + friends with commitments in and around Iraq and Afghanistan - that'll look like a turkey shoot because governments( who haven't, like the UK) will massively increase spending on forces.

    As always, the only use for a WMD is self annihilation. I can think of a million better ways to 'terrorise' but terrorism is pointless by definition, it never succeeds in it's long term goals.

    Penguins, coz when the shit hits the fan, at least we'll still have lin-- penguins ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    You have got to be kidding

    " the rogue US government bioweapons researcher Bruce Ivins. Ivins was, as one would expect, far and away the most effective bioweapon attacker."

    That statement is a joke. In the US, the most effective bioweapons attack was the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack where more than 750 individuals in The Dalles, Oregon, were infected with salmonella.

  6. Jolyon Ralph

    Problem with the Ivins comparison

    It seems a little disingenious to use the relatively low number of fatalities from the Ivins Anthrax attack to say that bioweapons are of a low risk factor because the assumption is made in comparing those figures that Ivins was trying to achieve maximum fatalities and five was all he was able to muster even with the best bioweapons gear available to him.

    Perhaps that was the case (I don't know the exact details), but it it equally likely that he was a nutjob who was very specificially targetting individuals and organizations rather than trying to cause mass casualties, it's not like he went out to a train station or shopping mall and started dusting everyone.

    Also, Anthrax isn't contagious, so the sort of scale and casualties you would expect from an anthrax attack are going to be pretty similar to the sort of effects you'd see from a chemical weapon - only those who have had immediate contact with the spores are at risk. It might be a little nastier because they tend to lurk around and are a bugger to clean up rather than (for example) nerve gas which will dissipate naturally, but it isn't anywhere near the level of horribleness that you'd associate with (for example) a weaponised smallpox or similar.

    This doesn't discount any of your other valid points - I just felt this one was worth commenting on.


  7. Dave Harris

    Only partially bullshit

    Recreating the smallpox virus is highly unlikely - although at the current rate of progress that may arrive on the menu sooner than we'd like. However, looking at what is currently being achieved in engineering viruses, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if a virus-based weapon could be made by terrorists within 5 years. Delivering it could be horribly easy, depending on how it spread.

    We're not talking about a bunch of amateurs in a back street lab: some of these people are well qualified to do the work and have enough financial backing to buy the equipment they need. Add to that a "rogue state" happy to allow them lab space and the outlook does not look good.

    I suspect that although a terrorist may try & construct a nuclear bomb, it's quite likely to malfunction and turn into a "dirty bomb" as it's primary explosive (and possibly primary A-bomb) spread radioactive material over a wide area. The engineering required to make one of those buggers work is vastly more sophisticated and difficult than the so-called underground press would have you believe. Even US & UK military nuclear bombs are, apparently, pretty unreliable: one reason there are so many of them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A little common sense

    Think about it, the two attempts at using Bio weapons were by people who did not want to die. What would happen if lets say twenty people who want to die were to be infected with an air born biological agent, board planes to major population centers around the world and then when in most contagious phase of infection take a casual walk around town exposing as many people as possible.

    Could be very bad news even with just a nasty strain of the Flu, what would it be like if say they were able to somehow get ahold of something like the Ebola virus.

  9. Bunglebear


    I work in the biotech industry, and it has always been my view that chemical weapons pose far more of a terrorist risk than biological weapons. Yes, a biological outbreak of smallpox or similar pathogen could be catastrophic but bear in mind humankind lived with smallpox until the mid 19th century. To be truly effective a virus would have to be specifically engineered and any in research will tell you this is a mammoth task and keeping it secret would be even more challenging.

    Nerve gases to NOT all dissipate naturally. Sarin, the gas used in Tokyo subway attacks, does dissipate but VX has both a far lower LD50 and is a viscous liquid, cleaning up a section of a city that had been contaminated would be very difficult indeed. Couple that with ease of production (far easier than a virus or bacterial pathogen) it poses more of a risk short to medium term.

  10. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Quick! Before Obama bans them:

    Get your weaponised 'flu virus now. Ideal for duck hunting. Special holiday offer: buy two bioweapons and get a half price nuke for home defence.

  11. Pete Silver badge

    not with a bang, but a sneeze

    The chances are that the yanks are so focussed on the weapons they are willing to (and have) use that they wouldn't actually recognize a bio-weapon used by a terrorist organisation. You don't need high-grade plutonium, nor centrifuges or vast purification plants - all requiring restricted hi-tech. All you need are a few suicide carriers with the sniffles on some crowded aircraft.

    If the goal is pure body-count, then there are many possibilities: not the least of which is bird-flu. Send your "agents" to somewhere infectious, then when they start to show symptoms pack 'em onto some jumbo-jets on nice, long flights - so everyone on board gets a good long exposure to the virus. Then, when they all disembark 10 hours later, you don't have just a few infectious people, but hundreds.

    Now, I know that this has already been the subject of numerous films, dramas and documentaries, but the basic premise still stands. The only oproblem (from a terror PoV) is that there's no BOOM to draw attention to your cause and it could be a long time before recognition for the actions can be assigned.

  12. Steve

    'cry wolf'

    Thanks to a previous well-known cry wolf event ('45 minutes from Armageddon'), people will be less inclined to take this report seriously. So who has created the REAL danger?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @Dave Harris - Nukes are easy

    If you have enough highly enriched Uranium 235, or Plutonium 239, making a nuke is trivial. The reason the stockpiles of nukes are difficult to make is because they can be very high power (500 kiloton average - but up to over 50 megatons), and also small enough to stick on the top of a rocket. New Scientist had a great article about 20 years ago about how to make a terror nuke of about Hiroshima size. The tricky part is making the fissile material, once you have it, making it go pop is easy. New Scientist recommended a basement full of concrete and a 3 story drop (the kinetic energy from the drop is enough to hold 2 1/2 critical masses together long enough - the concrete stops the energy dissipating sideways).

  14. Luther Blissett

    Semantics as the first casualty of war, and the rule of bombery

    > The report says quite clearly that Iran is working hard on getting a bomb, ... "Iran continues ... in an apparent effort to acquire a nuclear weapons capability"

    So "apparent effort" = "working hard on getting"? Apparently, Gaza is not a concentration camp under daily siege either. I suspect even L.Reg pays for hard work, rather than apparent effort.

    In case no-one has noticed we are in the middle of a big war, and the WMD concerned has been released and is causing havoc, and will continue to claim a lot of victims and cause suffering - OTC Derivatives. The First rule of Bombery states: no bomb is any use if it blows up the bomber. That's why these WMD scare stories cannot cut ice.

  15. Michael Fremlins
    Black Helicopters

    Chemical weapns are bunk?

    Er, what about the sarin gas attack in Tokyo? It could have been much, much worse.

  16. Alan Fisher

    one things

    The bioweapon HAS to be a bright red liquid and they MUST have a bright green antidote otherwise they're not decent terrorists but a bunch of amateurs and couldn't make effective demands for One Million Dollars!!

    I imagine not even the most stupid terrorists will use antidote-less bioweapons purely because viruses have a habit of mutating in the wild and going insanely out of control.....not an accurate weapon either is it? Like Bunglebear said, chem weapons are easier to direct and control so I'll start designing a cutoure gas mask for the descerning metro and beat the market now!

  17. Iamfanboy

    @ pete... moron.

    Uh, Pete?

    Your scenario might hold a bit more weight if there was any way for bird flu to be passed via airborne means.

    It has the same communicability as the AIDS virus, blood or other vital fluids necessary - that's why the only sufferers are those who work VERY closely with the infected birds, such as butchering them. Coughing won't do it. That's why all us serious types long ago discounted 'bird flu' as a serious threat, along with shoe bombing and dirty bombs.

    Communicability, incubation period, and lethality are the three factors of any virus 'weapon', and bird flu lacks all three to be a serious weapon.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    "If you have enough highly enriched Uranium 235, or Plutonium 239, making a nuke is trivial. "

    Oh dear, oh dear oh dear, here we go again.

    NO IT ISN'T. I'm sorry — it JUST ISN'T. It is actually a perfect example of a VERY difficult and challenging Big Science problem. You have to engineer the whole assembly very precisely or it WON'T WORK. NOT AT ALL.

    Nuclear weapons are also incredibly hard to strategically deploy meaningfully and effectively. Much better, cheaper and destructive to human life to just engineer a virus. Or fiddle with enzymes.

    I wish people would stop spouting this illiterate, uninformed drivel. Nuclear weapons are beyond terrorist organisations' ability to assemble. To buy, perhaps but not to build.

    And getting the enriched U235 or PU239 in the first place is, like, obviously also a dead trivial matter to AA, I suppose? Well, in a world filling up with gonks who make statements like this openly it is probably getting a whole lot easier.

    Next ...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Anyone notice that the genome of smallpox disappeared from online archives several years ago? Even if you captured an entire copy, how do you know it is smallpox and not cowpox or horsepox or .... ? Not like anyone has an SHA-256 hash of the genome (would YOU trust a mere collision prone MD-5 hash for something like this?)

    Never mind getting it to fold correctly after assembly (genetic algorithms work good here) and a valid encapsulation (steal one from a different pox may work, then test on captive subjects).

    I'd bet on something simpler, such as a bacterial carrier of a phage that just happens to have a striking similarity to the HIV retrovirus... with strikingly similar effects in humans. Pick a bacterium common in cows, infect them (they don't get HIV, but they'll shed lots of bacteria) and see how long it takes for anyone to notice the uptick in HIV... and track down the source.

    Sure the oral route to infection is inefficient, but then there are billions of people eating cows so the law of averages is in your favor.

    Remember what you mom told you-- cook your food well!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Greg Fleming

    > It is actually a perfect example of a VERY difficult and challenging Big Science problem. You have

    > to engineer the whole assembly very precisely or it WON'T WORK. NOT AT ALL.

    Not true, I'm afraid.

    Engineering a *high-yield* device is somewhat challenging - but a terrorist wouldn't need that. A low-yield device would do fine - after all, it's the headlines of "terrorist nukes $city" that they're after; the actual explosion id entirely incidental.

    And low-yield devices are easy to build once you've got enough fissile material. The relevant calculations used to be part of A-level physics.

  21. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Standard assorted US-centric view of world detected

    1st place -- Unfounded affirmation (except as given by the smoking laptop coming from a CIA-bankrolled terrorist organization) that Iran is "building the bomb" -- Check

    2nd place -- Unfounded affirmation that Syria was "building a breeder with North Korea" -- Check

    3rd place -- Unfounded affirmation that Russia is resurgent and/or aggressive -- Check

    4th place -- Non-mention of destabilizing effect of confirmed Israeli "nukes in the basement" -- Check. Instead civilian programs in the region are destabilizing? Ah hold on, must be because no US contractors are involved.

    5th place -- Mention of self-serving delusion that "Pakistan is an ally" -- Check

    6th place -- Non-mention of the destabilizing effect that the recent US-India "sweet deal" on nuke proliferation has on that continent -- Check

  22. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Old "State of the Art" in Virus Regeneration

    I knew I read about this:

    Alien because "it's alien DNA, Mulder"

  23. Steen Hive

    @Greg Fleming

    "Nuclear weapons are also incredibly hard to strategically deploy meaningfully and effectively. Much better, cheaper and destructive to human life to just engineer a virus. Or fiddle with enzymes."

    Total Fail on your part for assuming that pesky terrorists want to destroy human life. Of course that is patent bollocks. The aim of terrorism is to terrorise the wielders of overwhelming power. That is all that is required.

    The idea of "Strategic deployment" is simply void. If some towel-heads popped a crude nuke, whether manufactured or bought, *anywhere* you could bet that the stalinists in power in the west would have their own populations' arses in a sling before you could blink. Job done.

  24. Rich

    I reckon the next terrerist attack will come from Idaho

    Homegrown wingnuts are a much more likely threat to the US than foreigners. Ames was an American, of course. So was the Unabomber and the Oklahoma City bombers.

  25. The Other Steve

    @Greg Fleming - mod + 1 for wrong-oh, sorry.

    Nuke manufacturing wise, there are at least two basic options for design, the 'gun' design, and the 'implosion' design. Implosion devices are the harder to make, and are the type used in high yield boosted weapons of the type you find perched atop a MIRV. (because you can build them smaller)

    Manufacture of a high yield boosted weapon requires a state. And a highly technologised one at that, so we can discount them straight off the bat. But crude weapons, well. The engineering challenge* for a gun type device is that you have to be able to machine, or otherwise form some of your fissile material with a hole in it. For implosion types, you need to machine or otherwise form your sub crit mass to a shape that you can compress with explosives, and be able to compress it, with explosives.. (Detail missing on purpose)

    Obviously, you have to be able to do this without offing yourself, which is hard since both common fission fuels are perilously toxic and dangerous to handle, as are the conventional explosives required.

    It sounds quite hard, I admit, but enough of my psycho rambling on the subject, let me quote to you from the book "How to build a nuclear bomb and other weapons of mass destruction"** by a chap called Frank Barnaby :

    "A group of two or three people with the appropriate skills could design and fabricate a crude nuclear explosive. It is a sobering fact*** that the fabrication of a primitive nuclear explosive using plutonium or suitable uranium would require no greater skill than that required for the production and use of the nerve agent and released in the Tokyo underground."

    And Frank ought to know, since he's a nuke boffin who use to work at ARE Aldermaston. Note here the emphasis on _crude_ and _primitive_, You aren't even looking at the kiloton range, more like the 100 ton range. Because we're used to thinking of nukes in terms of mega- and kilo- tonnage, that sounds quite small, but the equivalent of 100 tons of TNT going up will spoil an awful lot of peoples day, and such a device is likely to be quite dirty due to inefficient fission.

    Sorry, dude. Great big megadeath warheads, no. Big badda boom, 'fraid so. It's 3 AM, do you know where _YOUR_ fissile material is ??

    * It was only Big Science the first time. After that it's all engineering.

    ** Anarchists cook book, my arse. Granta, London, 2003. ISBN 9-781-862-076-778, pp 36. Despite the catchy name it's a level headed, candid assessment of the various types of WMD, their effects, and the level of technology, expertise and finance required to manufacture and deploy them. A thumping good read, but perhaps not one for air travel. Read it before Jackboots Schmidt bans it.

    *** No Frank, it bloody well isn't.

  26. Joe Blogs

    Waste of tax payers dollars

    How many American citizens have been killed by terrorist attacks in comparison to say obesity, smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively, cancer, car crashes or guns in the hands of stupid people?

    Get your damn priorities right and quit wasting time and resources...

    I'll take any coat, as i just really don't give a flying fark...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Bird flu transmitted via airborne means?

    do the birds count?

    mines the one being pelted with eggs

  28. Mark

    re: Chemical weapns are bunk?

    You anwer your own question with:

    "Er, what about the sarin gas attack in Tokyo? It could have been much, much worse."

    It wasn't, though, was it. It was pretty weak. They killed more with panic than the weapon.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Iranian Enrichment

    The report says Iran has "three-quarters of what would be needed, after further enrichment, to build its first bomb"

    The key here is **further enrichment**. This is the very hard part of making a bomb and the evidence is that Iran has made no progress towards this and has no plans for how to do it. It's almost as if they're enriching only to the levels required for nuclear power.

    However, it's still worth shifting a few of the boy's over from Iraq to sort them out anyway - it's only 1 letter different so shouldn't be too hard to persuade the public.

  30. Mark

    @Greg Fleming

    Nope, it's really easy. Even by accident.

    Story: Birmingham university. Long time ago.

    A demonstration of how a uranium bomb is practical has a geiger counter on a bench with a lump of uranium on a tripod next to it. The professor has another lump in his hand.

    Bringing it down toward the other lump on the table causes the geiger counter to go apeshit.

    Demonstration complete.

    Except one time the lump dropped from the prof's fingers and the two lumps hit each other. Bang. Blue smoke, lump of uranium thrown across the room.

    A large proportion of the people in that room died soon after from radiation effects.

    THAT'S how easy it is.

    Then again, can anything be done to stop it? No. A lone sniper can if they don't care about being caught or killed can kill ANY world leader and the only way to stop that is to kill the leader first.

    (note: they changed the experiment after that by bringing the freestanding lump UP toward the other uranium shell).

  31. Michael Fremlins

    Mark (11.47) you just don't get it

    It could have been much worse. Pretty weak? 1,000 suffered injuries. That's not weak. If the stuff was a bit stronger it could have been 1,000 deaths. Or more.

    If you don't see that, you are blind.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Still more likely to be domestic, as usual, crazy f-ers!

    There are a lot of sociopaths that would be more than happy to spur terror within their own country in order to pursue whatever ideals they believe in, regardless of the lives lost (hence sociopaths). Many conflicts in the world have been sparked by 3rd party members tossing matches into powder kegs for one reason or another, and for what I can see that has cost the most lives. Anyone remember the events that led to WWI, ffs the politicians involved in that conflict were all related minus maybe one or two, the biggest family spat in history! People die for stupid reasons when war is involved and the peasants suffer the most (again, if you don't know if you're a peasant, you're a peasant, no matter how much money you make).

    The report at least has been an improvement to the risk assessments conducted in the past 8 or more years, and to be blunt, is the same now as it was then. People hate the US because we let businesses conduct our international policies, so if people need to die in the name of "progress" (making a buck), then so be it.

    We're already being poisoned on a daily bases by industry because it costs less to spew chemicals into the air, or put it into the food/water supply in "safe" amounts becuase it costs too much to dispose of it legally. If you can't see the smoke in the smoke stacks, then it's safe, right??? Why again is Florine safe? Why is it that a glass of water has as much fluorine as the dab of toothpaste that when I ingest it I'm supposed to go to poison control for advice???

    "We are functional, we are efficient, we are prepared and self sufficient, and we only destroy for the greater good. So you can be free to consume more as you should and lead a better life... where is the line between progress and decline? Why is functional worth more and sustainability? We only kill for the bottom line, so you can be free to consume more as you should, and lead a better life."

    We're doomed if we don't wake up, the more people there are willing to do more for the greater good, the more can survive the kinds of catastrophes that hit China in the earth quake, or rampant murder in the name of the status quo (i.e. War). When we finally hit Bosnia? That is what war is for from nations such as the western ones, war for the greater good because it has to be done. This is why so many join the military, and why so many that join and see the worst are so disillusioned. They only, like the rest of us, hear the extreme kill mongers and the idiot peaceniks from the media, which mostly, are unreliable in what and how they "inform" us of the fact.

    If the NWO is going to happen, as it will be, then at the very least it should be created from rationality and compassion at the very least. When families are handled the same way, as we all know usually are (sorry to those with dysfunctional families), that methodology should be easily applied to the biggest family of all, the human race.

    I know I might seem overly idealistic, but the choice of doing what is right and wrong comes down to the individual, and from their merges with the family, and then merges with society. The world has been part of the same society whether it know it or not for at least 1000 years. No time like the present to do it right for a change. And mass murder isn't an option, that's how families fall apart.

    (*gasps for air*) If you sit people down individually, as I have, almost everyone will agree. Because it's the f-ing truth. I think Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad may have been onto something.

    OK I'm done. Good luck everyone, we need all the luck we can get over the next dozen years. What is coming will make anything we can do to each other look like a waste of time and energy, and the sooner we work together as a family, dysfunctional or not, the better. It will only be too late if all life on this planet is dead, so keep hope alive PLEASE!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Mark (again)

    John von Neumann visited Los Alamos in 1943 and suggested that high-speed assembly and high velocities would prevent pre-detonation and achieve more symmetrical explosions. A relatively small, subcritical mass could be placed under so much pressure by a symmetrical implosion that efficient detonation would occur.

    Less fissionable material would be required, bombs could be ready earlier, and extreme purification of Plutonium would be unnecessary. Ideal, in your scenario. We all know that.

    UNFORTUNATELY reality steps in here.

    To assemble a workable device using small quantities of fissile material DEMANDS high-velocity and high-precision assemblies. A simpler gun weapon requires LOTS of material, is inefficient and is only practical with Uranium.

    A Plutonium weapon in contrast, using shaped, highly focused implosion, requires tiny amounts of fissile material by comparison BUT if this is not done 100% right, pre-detonation will occur and your theoretical bomb will merely fizzle, emit some prompt radiation and probably just stop dead all within a split second. Fail. An expensive fail.

    This is the very (big) issue the finest minds in physics struggled with for 3 years at Los Alamos, so don't use the term "trivial" to describe the practical limits of assembling working nukes. It requires a skill in physics and in practical handling of conventional high-explosives that is anything but trivial. The explosive charges in the casing must be carefully weighed, milled and shaped and at every step you risk blowing yourself up. You then have to put it all together and that assembly must be mechanically stable.

    So why not save yourself the risk and just pop your 100 tons of TNT in a truck and blow it up. Because you will never get a working nuke to yield less than 1-2 Kt and if it won't work, it won't half-work either. A sort-of-kinda-works nuke does not exist. They either DO work or they DON'T.

    Such scenarios as you describe are quite physically impossible to anyone but a highly technologically enabled state.

    As I have said, bio-weapons are much more efficient weapons of terror. No terrorists are going to waste time engaging with the pesky facts and practicalities of nuclear weapon design.

    I think you should though, because you seem woefully misinformed.

  34. Jimmy

    You have just been rendered.

    Too many posters displaying an intimate knowledge of nuclear, biochem and chemical weaponry. Please desist immediately. Signora Jacquiavelli plans to lease the soon to be vacant Guantanamo concentration camp with a view to filling it with UK citizens who cross her 'enemy of the state' threshold. Since, in her opinion, this includes everyone in the country she will be faced with a slight logistics problem that will force her to be more selective.

    With a self-selecting group like the posters above, La Jacquiavelli will be off to a flying start for her 'must fly' list. Come on, you didn't really believe that the government planned to build a third runway at Heathrow in the middle of a recession in order to cope with an increase in tourist traffic, did you?

    Happy landings.

  35. Mark

    re: Mark (11.47) you just don't get it

    "It could have been much worse. Pretty weak? 1,000 suffered injuries."

    Yup. Bioweapons are all hyped up to be like Belerophon/Chimera in MI2. That would be "1000 suffered death".

    And the Tokyo underground problem had several hundred suffer injuries because of panic. Not even the bioweapon hurt them: they or their fellow sheeple hurt them.

  36. Mark

    @Greg Fleming

    Yes. An efficient and small bomb (since range depends on the physical weight of the warhead and phusical extent of same as an ICBM) is complicated.

    But if you drive downtown, all it needs to do is fit in the back of a flatbed. With a tarp over it.

  37. Mark

    @Greg Fleming

    PS and you need some fairly pure uranium or plutonium. But once made, pretty easy to construct the bomb itself.

    And the US (with the biggest stockpile in the world) is not exactly noted for security.

    Which may be one of the reasons they are so concerned about McKinnon: they MUST prove he's a dedicated terrorist and genius level hacker else the populace will see how insecure they are. Which isn't good in keeping the plebeian in line.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well ...

    <blinks eyes>


  39. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    It's the END OF THE WORLD!!!!

    "...a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013..."

    Funny, that.

    I understand that Global Warming will also start by 2013. And we're going to get Peak Oil by 2013 as well.

    2013 is also the date at which all raw materials will become impossible to buy, and the world will collapse from over population.....

    If I recall correctly, in the 1970s the date at which all this was to happen was 2000. And in the 1200s Joachim suggested the Christian era would end in 1260......

  40. alphaxion

    why all the bother?

    If you were a terrorist, why go through all the bother of attempting a nuke or the chance that your bio-weapon could wipe out all human life (pretty pointless when considering the agenda of terrorists) when strapping a standard explosive device onto the back of a person and sending them off into a large city is orders of magnitude easier, effective and gets your message across.

    If a terrorist really wanted to create terror then that is what they would do - just look at how proliferate the IRA were to realise that you don't go for the complicated option, you go for the most effective.

    Enough with this bullshit of terrorists seeking WMD, it's a FUD battle that is only being used to restrict these technologies to a select few.

    End of.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the point of the dirty bomb is...

    ..not to be an effective weapon of mass destruction, but a weapon of mass disruption. "dirty" bombs would be relatively easy to manufacture, much simpler than a proper working big-bang nuke, but they wouldn't cause much damage - in fact no more than whatever conventional explosives were in there to start with. Nor would the radiation be particularly problematical, not in a city, where established decontamination techniques could deal with it.

    The US Army, the Atomic Energy Commission, and even the Iraqis, all researched dirty bombs as potential weapons. The AEC report found that the only way someone outside of the immediate exlosive radius (a few hundred yards) could receive a life-threatening dose was if they stood still in the same spot for a year!

    Where it wins out is (literally) the terror and panic it would cause - far more people would be killed in the mad stampede to leave the area or in the social and economic disruption that followed, albeit locally, than would or could ever be killed by the explosion itself or any released radiation. And that's what makes it a great terror weapon, it instils utter terror yet is a very crap bomb. You could rig one up with some home made fertiliser explosive and luminous radium paint, call it a dirty bomb and blackmail the Broon for one million dollars!

  42. alphaxion

    why bother

    what's the point of going through the hassle of getting the material for a dirty bomb when a well placed hand grenade into the entrance of a tube station can cause just as much panic at fractions of the cost and trouble?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Chemical Weapons are Bunk?

    That is pretty silly statement.

    WWI saw a lot of dead people from chemical weapons.

    Saddam was using chemical weapons to genocide the Kurds across Iraq for years. One such site is remembered here.

    The Al-Qaeda affiliated Chemical & Biological Weapons facility in Sargat, Iraq was one of the first places targeted by the allies... with confirmation of WMD destroyed and stockpiles of pre-cursors found, and confirmed cooperation between terrorists and the former Iraqi regime at the confirmed destroyed terrorist chemical weapons site.

    Even after leveling Sargat, Iraq, WWI grade chemical weapon manufacturing and other biological weapons facility for Al-Qaeda affiliate, Iran never released the Al-Qaeda which survived the invasion when they retreated into Iran, and al-Qaeda continues to cause havoc across Iraq.

    Sure, only a few of the successful chlorine attack by surviving Al-Qaeda in Iraq were cited above, but over 1000 injured and over 100 killed from multiple chemical weapons attack by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq since the invasion by the allies. The life-long ailments suffered from lung damage to so many survivors is considered bunk by some, but the lives of Iraqi's affected are more valuable than the people who write such opinions.

    I can't figure out whether media writers are just ignorant, terrorist sympathizers, or terrorists who have infiltrated the outlets.

  44. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: Chemical Weapons are Bunk?

    Yes, that IS a silly statement.

    It wasn't made, but that doesn't stop it being a silly statement.

    What WAS bunk (and is not a silly statement) is that we had to invade "NOW!!!!" because of WMD's and chemical weapons. Especially the idea that Iraq could have gassed London if we didn't take them out NOW.

    That was a load of bunk.

  45. Tom
    Thumb Down

    @ Other Steve

    "A group of two or three people with the appropriate skills could design and fabricate a crude nuclear explosive. It is a sobering fact*** that the fabrication of a primitive nuclear explosive using plutonium or suitable uranium would require no greater skill than that required for the production and use of the nerve agent and released in the Tokyo underground."

    What a crap quote, anyone, trained in anything, can acomplish that in which they are trained, surely....

  46. Tom Paine

    S.A.T.T. request @Mark 11:53

    @Mark, 11:53

    "Story: Birmingham university. Long time ago. [...] "

    [ CItation needed ]

    Sounds like an urban mytholigised version of the Slotin accident, but you sound knowledgable on this topic...

    ( )

  47. James Woods

    can we say scare tactics?

    Typical scare tactics. It's how government runs, it's how we have an president elect that's not even a natural born citizen. Scare people enough and they will do anything.

  48. Shig

    Here's an idea...

    How about this...

    America, stop fucking off the rest of the world. Make some friends instead of enemies.

    There. Problem solved.

  49. david wilson

    @Chemical Weapons are Bunk?

    I take it your 'Al-Qaeda' in Iraq is actually 'Al-Qaeda in Iraq', the name used by some people in Iraq because it sounds scary, despite their not being obviously connected with Al-Qaeda (or at least, not before we turned up there).

    I love your link:

    ie 'Preliminary tests by a news organisation suggest there may have been ricin at a camp in Iraq.'

    Well, I'm convinced by that - no need to hear about an official follow-up!

    I love the way they reference the London 'ricin plot'. That was the one where within two days it was evident to the authorities that no traces of chemical or biological weapons had been found, yet they continued to misinform the public for their own purposes.

    It's a good job no-one would dream of doing anything like that when it comes to Iraq, isn't it? That could get us into all kinds of trouble.

  50. jeanl

    new bill for WMD attack within the US of A

    I think US should now introduce a new registry or bill to execute those who use WMD onto US soil or coast. Let's say, if the WMD is made or has something to do with Iran, could be any country, US must retaliate decisively and wipe out the immediate threat without delay or hesitation. Strike then ask later policy must in place and widely publicize especially outside the country. So any nation try use the anti0America cheap politic for their political career boost in the near future would think twice cos the possibility of being wipe-out from extinction not just themselves but his or hers entire nation goes with it.

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