nancy Techie Tues 9-2-97

Who has the bomb? There is no way to be sure. Last month GreenPeace revealed that they nearly bought a nuclear weapon. Are nukes as easy to purchase as a handgun? Almost!

Loose Nukes 

   Last month the environmental group Greenpeace said it tried to obtain a nuclear warhead from a Soviet army officer at the end of the Cold War.

But the plan to take possession of the nuclear bomb in East Germany in 1991 fell through when the officer, who had sought payment of $250,000, was posted away from the area after a security shakeup, a Greenpeace spokesman said.

The decision to try to get hold of a nuclear warhead was taken to highlight the danger of “loose nukes” as the Soviet Union began to break up.

The spokesman defended the action despite its dangers, saying Greenpeace wanted to highlight major environmental problems.

The United States and Russia still hold 12,800 nuclear warheads, and with India and Pakistan emerging as nuclear weapons states, “It is clear the problem is not being dealt with by the politicians,” he said.

Greenpeace had been contacted by the Soviet officer, and the former head of Greenpeace’s Disarmament Research Unit, William Arkin, had corresponded with him with a view to getting hold of the device.

“It would have been the biggest nuclear event since Hiroshima,” Arkin was quoted as saying in Saturday’s edition of The Independent newspaper.

“We planned to line up a scientific team to verify the bomb’s authenticity, and then we were going to unveil it in front of the world’s media to show them that loose nukes were a problem, that disarmament was necessary and that controls on existing weapons needed to be tightened up,” said Arkin, a former U.S. army intelligence officer.

“Then we were going to say to the Russians: ‘Here’s your bomb. Come and get it,”‘ he said.