Five Minutes Past Midnight: The Clear and Present Danger of Nuclear Weapons Grade Fissile Materials (February 1996)   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons grade fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) are a 'clear and present danger' to international security. Much of this material is uncontrolled and unsecured in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Access to these materials is the primary technical barrier to a nuclear weapons capability since the technology know-how for a bomb making is available in the world scientific community. Strategies to convince proliferators to give up their nuclear ambitions are problematic since those ambitions are a party of largest regional security. There is no national material control and accounting in Russia. No one knows exactly how much fissile materials they have, and if any is missing. A bankrupt atomic energy industry, unpaid employees and little or no security has created a climate in which more and more fissile materials will likely be sold in black markets or diverted to clandestine nuclear weapons programs or transnational terrorist groups. Control over these materials will ultimately rely on the continuous and simultaneous exercise of several measures. While there is little one can do now to stop a determined proliferator, over time international consensus and a strengthened non-proliferation regime will convince proliferators that the costs outweigh the gains."

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