• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Gov’t Investigators Smuggled ‘Dirty Bomb’ Ingredients Into U.S.

Mar 28, 20063 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Two groups of government investigators employed fake Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) papers to enter the United States with enough radioactive materials to assemble two “dirty bombs,” CNN reports.

This finding comes from a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on Monday, according to CNN. Said report was prepared at the behest of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, CNN reports.

The investigators involved procured from a commercial source “a small quantity” of radioactive materials, and then posed as employees of a fake company to filter the materials into the United States using checkpoints along the northern and southern borders, according to CNN.

“It’s just an indictment of the system that it’s easier to get radiological material than it is to get cold medicine,” a senior member of the subcommittee said, according to CNN.

Two additional GAO reports on nuclear material smuggling and detection efforts were provided to reporters on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s planned subcommittee meetings to address what the government has done to prepare for these types of attacks, CNN reports.

The second report says that though the State, Energy and Defense departments have distributed equipment that detects radiation to some three dozen countries since the mid-1990s, the equipment is difficult to operate due to technical limitations and a lack of supporting infrastructure at border locales, among other reasons, according to CNN.

According to the second report, the Department of State has not kept a master list of all radiation detection equipment it procured and distributed to other countries, CNN reports.

The lack of a master list means agency officials “cannot accurately assess if equipment is operational and being used as intended; determine the equipment needs of countries where they plan to provide assistance; or detect if an agency has unknowingly supplied duplicative equipment,” CNN reports.

NRC spokesman David McIntyre told CNN that the commission did not agree that the incident presented a serious risk, though he didn’t know what materials were smuggled across U.S. borders.

Regarding the forged NRC documents, McIntyre told CNN, “We are concerned about their ability to counterfeit an NRC document, and we are taking steps to address that,” including determining methods to improve anti-counterfeiting measures and sharing information with Customs officials regarding NRC papers, according to CNN.

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