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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

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lchic - 09:42am Jun 14, 2002 EST (#2528 of 2540)

UK nuclear safety report discloses deficiencies

13:15 12 June 02 news service

Staff shortages and security problems are hampering attempts to protect nuclear plants from terrorist attack, a new report for the British government reveals.

The Office for Civil Nuclear Security, a shadowy state agency charged since 2000 with protecting 31 nuclear sites across the UK, has published its first ever report. Put quietly up on the Department of Trade and Industry website yesterday, it discloses "difficulties" with recruitment and several previously unknown "deficiencies" in security arrangements.

There was a flaw in the procedure for vetting staff at a new plutonium fuel manufacturing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, which required "temporary compensating arrangements" to be made. Workers have to be checked to make sure that they will not be recruited by terrorists to steal plutonium, which can be made into a nuclear bomb.

The security clearances for guards at nuclear power stations also had to be tightened up following a sabotage attempt two years ago. According to the report, a guard tried "to compromise the station's access control system". No further details are given.

Delayed inspections

The director of civil nuclear security, Michael Buckland-Smith, is concerned that his 35 staff and 1.6 million annual budget are inadequate, particularly since the terrorist attacks against the US on September 11th. "I have lost two experienced inspectors over the past 18 months and faced considerable difficulty and delay recruiting replacements," he says.

"Unfortunately, four of my most experienced staff are either retiring or leaving in the next twelve months, compounding the difficulties we anticipate finding suitably qualified replacements and filling new posts."

Buckland-Smith argues six extra posts are "essential if my office is to continue to regulate security in the civil nuclear industry comprehensively and effectively, given the heightened terrorist threat". A planned programme of nuclear site inspections, suspended after September 11th, will not start again until next month "at the earliest".

Widespread contamination

More than 12,500 workers at nuclear plants have been vetted over the past year by Buckland-Smith's staff. "Public concerns are often misconceived and exaggerated," he says. "Nevertheless, a successful sabotage attack on a nuclear facility could cause widespread radioactive contamination and loss of life."

Frank Barnaby, a nuclear consultant who used to work at the Aldermaston atomic weapons plant in Berkshire, points out that insiders could damage vital cooling systems at waste stores or reactors. "That would be a disaster," he says.

The staff shortages "reflects a disturbing disinterest in security matters by the government", according to David Lowry, an environmental consultant specialising in nuclear policy.

But this is denied by a government spokesman, who stresses that the Office for Civil Nuclear Security is doing a good job. "There are some staffing issues that need to be addressed," he says. "But we are confident that we will be able to recruit high quality staff."

Rob Edwards

mazza9 - 09:55am Jun 14, 2002 EST (#2529 of 2540)
Louis Mazza


If you want to talk off-line {actually on-line but not in this forum) my e-mail is

rshow55 - 06:30pm Jun 14, 2002 EST (#2530 of 2540) Delete Message

U.S. Withdraws From Missile Treaty Bush Presses Congress for $7.8 Billion for Defense System By Dana Milbank Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, June 14, 2002; Page A28

Congress is asking some questions, and even filing a lawsuit.

rshow55 - 06:34pm Jun 14, 2002 EST (#2531 of 2540) Delete Message

After I wrote a letter to an official at C.I.A

MD2472 rshow55 6/6/02 9:23pm ... MD2473 rshow55 6/6/02 9:27pm
MD2474 rshow55 6/6/02 9:29pm . . . MD2475 rshow55 6/6/02 9:32pm
MD2476 rshow55 6/6/02 9:33pm

and filed MD2477 rshow55 6/6/02 11:21pm , especially , I took the long drive to Ithaca, for a Cornell reunion, and a reunion (first in 30 years) of the Cornell 6-Year Ph.D. Program. Phuds has read some of my stuff, and specifically comments on this thread and on the Guardian about the Phud program. I had some interesting interchanges. By good luck, there were some Phuds with high security clearances, judging from their jobs. If anybody wonders what I look like (when very tired, a bit off-guard, and away from the gym for 6 montths) - I'm the white haired guy in the pink-purple-white striped shirt in these pictures. The other Phuds are SMART people - accomplished people - and very nice people, too.

Our talks, which were extensive, meant a lot to me. In some senses, these meetings with the Phuds were a "debriefing" - - and a vigorous one. .

During my time at Cornell (a school I'm PROUD of) and since, people have considered the question in MD2472 rshow55 6/6/02 9:23pm ...

" Could things be arranged so that I could talk to ______, or some other professional, on technical matters, in a way so that I had reasonable confidence, and _________ had reasonable confidence, that, whatever other problems we might have, our conversation did not violate US national security laws? "

A workable affirmative answer, in line with what I've asked for on key issues, seems to be taking shape. I'm hoping to become free, functional, mobile and, in manjumicha2001's phrase - "completely unshackled."

Who knows? Maybe things will be sorted out in a way that "the average reader of THE NEW YORK TIMES" might appove of.

Then a number of things I've let "hang fire" on this thread might be doable.

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