Loose Nukes

LOOSE NUKES….The LA Times editorial page has apparently decided to start using National Enquirer style headlines to lure people into reading their articles. You know the kind I’m talking about: “Oprah Fighting Cancer!” screams the headline, but it turns out that it just means that Oprah is spearheading a fundraising drive for the American Cancer Society.

Today the Times has an article by Graham Allison about nuclear proliferation called “Preventable Nightmare.” The headline says this:

Al Qaeda wants to nuke a U.S. city. There are simple ways to stop it

That got me genuinely curious. Nuclear bombs in terrorist hands really are an enormous threat, but most of us think it’s also an enormously tricky problem. What are the simple ways to stop it?

Well, here are Allison’s “three no’s”:

  • “No loose nukes” ? requires securing all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material, on the fastest possible timetable, to a new gold standard.

  • “No new nascent nukes” means no new national capabilities to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium.

  • “No new nuclear weapons states” ? draws a bright line under the current recognized nuclear powers and says unambiguously, “no more.”

These are all good ideas, but simple they aren’t. I doubt that it helps the cause to pretend otherwise.