Who are the Worldwide Suppliers of the Materials Necessary to Make a Dirty Bomb?
A.Q. Khan and the Dirty Bomb
Ever since India and Pakistan became nuclear powers (in 1974 and 1998, respectively), it's been a question of who next? Then ever since the rise of international terrorism, it's been a question of who might acquire the next worst thing-a so-called "dirty bomb." Technically called radiation dispersion devices, these dirty bombs inflict their destruction through conventional explosives mixed with radioactive materials rather than through an actual nuclear fission explosion.
There is much we don't know, including whether all of Pakistan's fissile material of the type terrorists could use to construct a dirty bomb is accounted for. We do know that Pakistan's rogue scientist, A.Q. Khan, has admitted to sharing nuclear technology secrets with Iran, North Korea and Libya and that subsequently North Korea developed a nuclear bomb and Iran is trying. We don't know, however, exactly how much farther the problem may have spread.
Former Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed ElBaradei said that A.Q. Khan is just the "tip of the iceberg." A U.S. expert says it is imperative that Khan's "nuclear clan" be tracked down and interrogated as to who else may be involved, such as the Saudis or the Syrians, or if Pakistani scientists have had any dealings with terror groups like the Taliban or al Qaeda that might desire a dirty bomb.
This expert also advises three other steps: Breaking up rogue nuclear networks and shutting down any organizations or companies involved in nuclear trafficking, strengthening international nonproliferation pacts such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and improving proliferation intelligence to avoid future surprises.
See the article "Nuclear Wal-Mart" for more information about A.Q. Khan, the godfather of global nuclear proliferation, and how to prevent more like him.