RealNews

U.S., Russia Confront Dirty Bombs

The U.S. and Russian governments, at odds over Iraq, joined forces Tuesday to bring together hundreds of scientists and government officials in the first global conference on “dirty bombs,” confronting a threat that hasn’t materialized but that could plunge cities into chaos if it does. American and Russian energy chiefs, co-sponsors of the three-day gathering, were expected to detail progress in their joint effort in the former Soviet Union to secure loose radiation sources — the cesium, strontium and other isotopes used in medicine and industry that could also be used to fashion a radiological dispersal device, or dirty bomb. The Sept. 11 attacks changed the world’s attitude toward such radioactive materials, U.S. officials say. When it comes to controlling them, “what may have been sufficient in the past may or may not be now,” U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in an interview in advance of Tuesday’s conference opening. After the Soviet Union collapsed a decade ago, the ex-federation’s military and government abandoned unknown numbers of radiation sources in former Soviet states, including, for example, highly radioactive strontium-90 batteries used for remotely placed aviation beacons. Full Story

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