Our Congress: aiding terrorists, whenever they can

News & Politics

A NYT op-ed today raises one of those gob-smackingly astounding issues that we should have known before it was too late.

Simply put: Republican Senator Pete Domenici, chairman of the Energy Committee, inserted an amendment into the massive energy bill that drops restrictions on exporting weapons-grade uranium.

Alan J. Kuperman writes in his Op-Ed, this is "the same material used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb."


If terrorists obtained enough such uranium they could fashion a full-fledged nuclear weapon, not merely a "dirty bomb" that would scatter radioactive waste. As the late Manhattan Project physicist Luis Alvarez noted in his memoirs: "With modern weapons-grade uranium, the background neutron rate is so low that terrorists, if they had such material, would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half. . . . Even a high school kid could make a bomb in short order."
The new law increases the likelihood of that nightmare scenario by allowing exports of bomb-grade uranium to foreign companies to rise to more than 100 pounds annually, thereby multiplying the odds that terrorists could steal enough for a bomb while the uranium is in transit to, or in storage at, foreign facilities.
Considering that we are in the midst of a Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, why would our Congress knowingly provide more opportunities for nuclear material to spread beyond our control? Isn't preventing the spread of nuclear weapons the same reason we're currently using to ramp up excuses to go to war on Iran?

Obviously, Domenici had very good, well-thought-out reasons for inserting this amendment. Kuperman opines:
Why would Senator Domenici favor increasing exports of bomb-grade uranium that could lead to the perfect terrorist weapon? One reason may be that lobbyists claimed that foreign pharmaceutical companies need this type of uranium to produce medical isotopes that are re-imported to diagnose and treat thousands of American patients in the absence of a domestic producer.
As always, the Republicans are standing up for the business interests that truly make this democracy function, consequences be damned.

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