Are suitcase nuclear bombs out there, somewhere?
Shortly after the September 11th attacks, the CIA was worried about top-secret intelligence revealing missing Russian nuclear devices, the creation of suitcase nuclear bombs, and that al Qaeda was trying to purchase or build nuclear weapons.
Some technical expertise is needed to construct a suitcase nuke. The warhead consists of a tube with two pieces of uranium that, when rammed together, would cause a blast. A firing unit and a device that would need to be decoded to cause detonation may be included in the “suitcase.” But a suicide bomber could detonate on site by simply pressing a button. No need to detonate it from afar.
One of these bombs had an explosive charge of one kiloton, equivalent to one thousand tons of TNT. If a device like this made its way to the U.S. it could destroy everything within a half-mile radius of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Within hours, prevailing winds would carry the nuclear fallout throughout Washington.
In the spy thriller PENUMBRA DATABASE, the devastating effects of a radiological dirty bomb igniting in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, are explained in detail. Here is a Snippet:
CIA spymaster Corey Pearson stared at the large Penumbra Database computer screen. The soft whir could be heard as the vast amount of deep data mining results continued to be analyzed and conclusions drawn. So far, it printed out 189 pages of deductions, suppositions, and assumptions on what the miniature radioactive bomb hidden in a U-Haul truck would do to Cleveland, Ohio. He didn’t need to read any more predictions after the first scenario came through, which the Penumbra Database ranked as “Highly Possible”:
“Winds ideal for large super-dirty, radioactive bomb attack around I-90 and Progressive Field area in Cleveland. Southerly winds steady at 9 mph. STOP. IMINT satellite photo…five minutes ago…shows highly dense human concentration- 57,000 people directly downwind after stadium and nearby buildings evacuated. STOP.
Note: U-Haul truck bomb with twenty 140mm mortars coupled with current winds, detonation location Progressive Field would instantly kill 3,000, injure 5,000. Knowledge of radioactive dirty bomb would create mass panic. STOP. Research studies of weapons-grade plutonium-239 inhalation toxicity on lab animals shows catastrophic human exposure level-one sniff will cause future lung cancer. Moving radiation cloud will produce inherent public horror and panic downwind. Radiation cloud would overwhelm safety forces as first responders care for wounded and respond to stress-induced heart attacks and traffic accidents by people fleeing the immediate vicinity and from miles away, downwind. STOP.
A dead zone would result. People could not live or work in downtown and surrounding Cleveland areas for possibly years. Restoring detonation and downwind vicinity would be painstakingly slow. STOP. Minimum of 1,000 de-contamination experts donned in protective suits needed to steam spray, vacuum, sandblast, and bulldoze tainted buildings, pavement, earth, and vegetation. Many out of state visitors attending game at Progressive Field. STOP. Thousands of locals and out-of-state visitors needed to be quarantined in decontamination centers and not be allowed to return home.”
Corey Pearson called POTUS on his secure phone.
End of Snippet
For some reason, the U.S. and Russia rarely, if ever, make public the existence or development of weapons small enough to fit into a normal-sized suitcase or backpack. This bothers me, for the expertise to make a small, easily disguised, and portable nuclear weapon that small exists.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community. He authors the Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.