NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Terrorists Could Easily Make An Atomic Bomb From MOX Fuel

June 1, 2001

Terrorists could easily make a crude atomic bomb from MOX fuel. A British state-owned company is trying to get the go-ahead to make MOX, a mixture of plutonium and uranium oxide, for reactor operators in Europe and Japan.

A report written by a physicist who formerly worked at the nuclear weapons laboratory and later headed the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute spells out exactly how easy it is to make MOX fuel into a bomb.

  • Terrorists would need no more technical know-how than that used to make the bomb that blew up the aircraft over Lockerbie, Scotland.
  • The expertise required is less than the skill used to prepare the sarin nerve gas for release into the Tokyo subway.

However, a nuclear expert from the University of Sussex admits turning MOX into a bomb is "theoretically possible," but thinks that in practice terrorists might find cheaper and easier ways of causing mass destruction. The company points out that turning plutonium into MOX fuel and burning it in reactors could reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation by cutting plutonium stockpiles.

Source: Rob Edwards, "Terrorists could easily make an atomic bomb from MOX fuel, says a confidential report," New Scientist Online News, May 30, 2001


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