Sunday, July 30, 2006

Good Catch!

From The American Spectator:

Bulgaria seems an unlikely country to deserve the world's gratitude. But it appears we can thank the alertness and professionalism of the Bulgarian customs authorities for saving us -- and not for the first time -- from the consequences of the incredible, almost treasonous, ineptitude, dysfunctionalism and general lack of joined-up-thinking that appears to pervade every aspect of the governance of New Labour's Britain.

Bulgarian border guards recently seized a British truck carrying radioactive material -- to the Iranian military -- that could have been used to make a "dirty" nuclear bomb.

Smuggling? Not a bit of it! The material was being sent to Mr. Ahmadinejad quite
legally and with the blessing of the British government.After a scanner showed it had radiation levels 200 times normal, the truck was found to be carrying ten lead-lined boxes addressed to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Inside each was a soil-testing device containing radioactive caesium 137 and americum-beryllium. (Soil-testing is usually the province of agriculture, not defense, ministries.)

The head of the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (who knew until now that Bulgaria had a Nuclear Regulatory Agency?), Nikolai Todorov, said he was shocked that devices containing so much nuclear material could be sold so easily: "The devices are highly radioactive -- if you had another 90 of them you would be able to make an effective dirty bomb." That meant if nine similar loads got through.


If this was a one-off incident, it would be a bad enough indictment of the present British Government. In fact it is only the latest of a series.

On August 31, 2005, a truck carrying 1,000 kg of zirconium silicate was stopped by Bulgarian authorities at the border with Turkey. The Bulgarians, detecting unusual radioactivity levels, discovered the truck was owned by a British firm, and alerted the British Embassy, which informed London on September 7. Although the
trade in zirconium is meant to be tightly controlled, the truck had traveled through Britain, Germany and Romania without being stopped. The British authorities maintained there was nothing illegal about the shipment, and it was eventually allowed to proceed.

John Large, an independent nuclear consultant, said: "It is not a very sophisticated process to extract the zirconium from such material. Even though this cargo does not fall within international control, I would still be concerned. Zirconium is used for two purposes: for cladding nuclear fuel rods inside a reactor and as material for a nuclear weapon."

Previously, in May 1999, Bulgarian customs officers trained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered highly-enriched Uranium U-235 concealed in an air-compressor in the trunk of a car at a border-crossing checkpoint. It was believed this was a sample to show prospective buyers.

As I have said before the Eastern European nations which labored long under the lash of communism will be our best allies in the long war to come. I pray that EU membership will not sap the will to survive from them.

Also, you all realize that this means that the terrorists are actively attempting to build a dirty bomb.