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Offline CGB_Spender

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Element collections and terrorism
« on: June 21, 2006, 05:17:20 AM »
Whats your opinion for the selling of some elements as Uranium, Cobalt, Cesium, Berillium e.tc? Do you believe that they must be prohibeted at all or not? Maybe element sales look like <<innocent>>, but what about if these elements go to the wrong hands? Go to the hands of some guys that are not collectors but terrorists? I know that maybe you think that this is just a far away senario, but its still a possible senario.  ;) We live in a world that terrorists and possible terrorists live with us too. Personally, i dont agree with these sales. Many elements, can be used for the creation of a ''Dirty bomb'' or even for the creation of an ATOMIC BOMB. If i was a collector,(And i think to start) i would probably buy some of these, as Cobalt or Cesium or even Uranium, BUT i am NOT a terrorist. However nobody can be sure about all the people that wants to buy for a collection. Maybe some are saying that are collectors but they are terrorists in reallity.  ;) I believe that some elements must be prohibeted from the pubic. Especially U-238, Thorium, Cobalt that can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. Whats your opinion friends?     

Offline pantone159

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2006, 09:18:53 AM »
Cobalt??!

I think you might be confusing normal cobalt with the radioactive isotopes of cobalt (which are indeed very dangerous).  The normal stuff is not dangerous (as the bulk metal, anyways).  Element vendors aren't selling the radioactive isotope!

A similar comment applies to cesium.  There is a well-known radioactive isotope, but normal cesium is completely unradioactive.  The metal is very reactive and indeed dangerous to handle, but I can't see a terrorist finding it useful.  (For example, a pistol is surely a much more capable instrument for hurting people, and is much easier to get and perhaps cheaper.)

Normal uranium is not used in making atomic bombs.  You have to separate the U-235 (0.7%) from the main U-238 (which is not particularly dangerous), and this takes billions of dollars worth of industrial plants as well as tonnes of natural uranium to start with. 

Offline CGB_Spender

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2006, 01:52:17 PM »
You didn't understand me. When i mention Cobalt, i mean that someone can buy Co-59, and convert it into Co-60. Someone can buy U-238 and yield Pu-239, someone can buy Beryllium and use it as a source of neutrons and do the same with Polonium. Someone can take Cesium and make it radioactive from 132 to 133 (If i remember correctly). What i mean is that they can buy <<innocent>> elements and make them VERY DANGEROUS. You don't need very sophisticated labs for doing it. You can easily buy protective uniforms and everything you need for this <<project>>. I am not saying that it's easy, but it is definitely not impossible.  ;)


 ;D
« Last Edit: June 23, 2006, 01:43:16 PM by Albert »

Offline pantone159

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2006, 12:58:36 AM »
You dont need a well sofisticated lab for do this.

I think you need a nuclear reactor. 

Offline Baseball_Fan

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2006, 01:11:58 AM »
You dont need a well sofisticated lab for do this.

I think you need a nuclear reactor. 


How hard are those to make? :)

It makes me think back to Richard Feynman and what it must have been like when they were doing the research, and making the bomb for the first time. If they could do it, then I suppose if you get enough smart people together, they'll be able to do it too. The only thing that can be done is to limit the materials which are used to make nuclear bombs.

Offline woelen

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2006, 04:21:35 AM »
You didnt understood me. When i mentioned Cobalt, i mean that someone can buy Co-59, and do it Co-60. Someone can buy U-238 and do it Pu-239, someone can buy Berillium and use it as a source of neutrons and do the same with Polonium. Someone can take Cesium and do it radioactive from 132 to 133 (If i remember correct). What i mean is that they can buy <<innocent>> elements and make them VERY DANGEROUS. You dont need a well sofisticated lab for do this. You can easily buy protective uniforms and everything neccessary for this <<project>>. I dont say its easy, but it is deffinetly not impossible.  ;)
Not the Co-59 is the problem, nor the U-238. Obtaining Co-59 is VERY easy. Pottery suppliers sell salts of this (sulfate and carbonate) and yesterday I obtained 50 grams of pure Co-metal as a powder. But do you really think that it is possible to make a nuclear weapon from these?

We should forbid the selling of aluminium disks, doorknobs and strips. These can be used to make an extremely dangerous device. I could make a rocket, finely divide the aluminium and put some ignition/detonation device in that rocket and launch it right into the government building, resulting in severe metal-fire, which is impossible to quench!
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Offline CGB_Spender

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2006, 04:48:46 AM »
Not the Co-59 is the problem, nor the U-238. Obtaining Co-59 is VERY easy. Pottery suppliers sell salts of this (sulfate and carbonate) and yesterday I obtained 50 grams of pure Co-metal as a powder. But do you really think that it is possible to make a nuclear weapon from these?

When i say nuclear weapon, i dont mean neccessarly atomic bomb. But its much more easy to create a <<Dirty bomb>>. Imagine a device with 1 kilo of Co-60, that explodes in Manhatan for example. Maybe we will not have victims at all, BUT the economical desaster will be ENORMOUS. Think about it.  ;)

Plus someone that <<collects>> U-238. He can theoritically do the same amount of dust U-238, Pu-239. Imagine a <<Collector>> that has 1 or 2 kilos of D.U... Imagine 2-3 <<Collectors>> that working together and they have knoledge of Nuclear technology. I really dont believe that this is just science fiction. ;) I believe that first of all U-238, must be prohibited at all. We cannot be sure about the persons that say that are collectors of elements. 

If i was a collector i admit that i would want to buy U-238 for my collection. Its an element that everyone would want. BUT i would buy just a few gramms PLUS i am not a terrorist. Can we be sure for all the people that say that are Collectors? NO. So the prohibition is the only meassure for be sure. The collectors that are not terrorists, probably would not like this, but we live in a dangerous world, and its neccessary.

For answering your question, i say YES, i believe that it is possible. Not easy BUT possible.  ;)

Offline Borek

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2006, 05:11:52 AM »
For answering your question, i say YES, i believe that it is possible. Not easy BUT possible.  ;)

Sorry, but that's only your imagination.

First, in no way can these isotopes be easily converted. What you say is equivalent to "it is not easy to buy a cannon, but terrorists can buy a car, which is made of iron, and convert it into cannon and it will be dangerous, so we have to do background checks on all people buying cars".  Note that it is much easier to convert car into canon or mortar, than to find a way to prepare minute amounts of radioactive isotopes from the available substances.

In a way approach you present leads to what have already happened in Texas with lab glass.

Second, to prepare amounts of radioactive substances you will need resources (in terms of money/knowledge/apparatus) that are beyond the reach of many countries. While terrorists are able to raise money, these amounts are rather beyond their reach. Especially taking into account fact that you may probably buy these things on black market, or that it will be much easier to steal radioactive isotopes from transports or warehouses, then to prepare them by yourself. Note: I am not telling it will be easy to steal, it will be easier then.
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Offline CGB_Spender

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2006, 05:37:36 AM »
I really want to believe that you are correct and its just my imagination, BUT...

Lets go back in 1930. Anyone in the world believed at this period of time, that the creation of an atomic bomb was possible? no. Well, it happened in 1945. In 1945, was anyone that believed that any other country would create nuclear weapons except USA and maybe USSR? No. Well in 1990 about 10 more countries had their nuclear bomb. Was a person in 1990, who believed that even simple people would have access in details about nuclear weapons from their PC and even BUY Uranium online? NO. Well it happens today. Is anyone in this world TODAY who believes that terrorists organisations will have their own nuclear <<dirty bombs>> or even their atomic weapon, in the future? NO...  ;)

This that is impossible today, doesnt mean that will remain for ever impossible.  ;)   

Offline Borek

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2006, 05:49:04 AM »
Lets go back in 1930. Anyone in the world believed at this period of time, that the creation of an atomic bomb was possible? no. Well, it happened in 1945.

Germans were close as well. They had huge resources, yet they didn't succeded. It is not that easy.

Quote
This that is impossible today, doesnt mean that will remain for ever impossible.

I am not stating it is impossible for terrorists to put their hands on nuclear weapons. All I am telling is that there are easier ways of getting such weapons than producing it by yourself.
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Offline Will

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2006, 12:49:09 PM »
Where do you plan to put this ban in place? The terrorists could just source the dangerous materials elsewhere, where it is legal, and transport it (it is easier to transport it than one would think), and then it would just create more problems than you think. At least if it is controlled in your country then you know who has bought it and it is possible to do checks on these people. Controlling things is better than banning them, as there are nearly always simple ways to avoid bans.

As you say, lets go back to 1930...  ;)

Offline constant thinker

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2006, 01:45:25 PM »
No matter what, there is always the black market. If you ban guns, someone who really wants a gun will just get it off the black market. I remember hearing stories about people in the USSR (this was in the middle of the cold war, my uncle told me a story about a friend who used to run contraband into the USSR) paying huge sums of money just for a pair of designer American jeans.

Simply banning something does not stop people from getting their hands on it. Look at drugs, they are everywhere in some schools. They were band, but anyone that wants to smoke some pot just has to talk to the right people.

My point is banning something won't do anything really. I'm more worried about terrorists stealing highly radioactive materials rather than making it themselves. Those old Coleman kerosene lamps used to use D.U. in the ceramic burner. A teacher put a geiger counter next to an old one, and it through a lot of clicks. Even from a good 3' (1 meter) away, there were still a lot of clicks from the geiger counter. There are tons of materials in your home, under your kitchen sink even, that you can turn into a bomb, incendiary device, or something else dangerous that could kill people.

For anyone to make a dirty bomb that was really successful in causing long term economic problems, they would need something highly radioactive. Stealing nuclear waste from a nuclear power plant would probably be much easier in cheaper. Well maybe not easier in the U.S., but places were security and regulation is more relaxed.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2006, 01:26:14 PM by constant thinker »
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Offline CGB_Spender

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2006, 05:40:43 AM »
Where do you plan to put this ban in place? The terrorists could just source the dangerous materials elsewhere, where it is legal, and transport it (it is easier to transport it than one would think), and then it would just create more problems than you think. At least if it is controlled in your country then you know who has bought it and it is possible to do checks on these people. Controlling things is better than banning them, as there are nearly always simple ways to avoid bans.
As you say, lets go back to 1930...  ;)

The ban must start from the high purity 99,99 U-238, Thorium (especially them), Cobalt, Berillium, Cesium, Graphite and Polonium. Then we'll see. 

Of course the terrorists can find radioactive materials in other places than buy them online and legally. But this doesnt mean that we have to let the selling of dangerous materials. We have to close as much as many holes we can. This messure will not make us safe 100%, but at least will make the life of the terrorists more difficult. Some possible sources for these guys will close. I also dont believe that we can compare the radioactive weapons with the illegal alchohol or drugs or even simple weapons. We are talking here about the worst distructive weapons ever made from human. What we must see for understand this? A giant mushroom over a big city? Even for drugs or illegan guns, if the meassures and the punishment against the responsible people would be harder and stronger, the problem would solve. Authorities just dont care a lot, thats the real problem. 

Plus i dont believe that is easy for terrorists to steal a weapon or even radioactive waste. Things have change even in Russia since 1991. Maybe this would be possible even some years after the falling of USSR, but today safety has restored in big degree. I know that is difficult for you to accept this, but i believe that if someday terrorists obtain nuclear weapons, this wiould be because they will have create them by themselves and not because they will steal them from some place. Dont believe that all the terrorists are not educated poor Arabs. There are also rich maniacs in our world and people with knoledge about these weapons. They are the real big threat.   

Offline Borek

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2006, 06:13:31 AM »
The ban must start from the high purity 99,99 U-238, Thorium (especially them), Cobalt, Berillium, Cesium, Graphite and Polonium. Then we'll see.

Will you ever understand, that banning U-238 doesn't change anything, as it is of no use for nuclear terrorists?

Graphite ban is especially ridiculous, but I think I can overbid you here... We have to ban water! Water always contain traces of heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors. If we ban water we can be finally safe.
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Offline Will

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Re: Element collections and terrorism
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2006, 06:49:15 AM »
We have to ban water! Water always contain traces of heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors. If we ban water we can be finally safe.

Just what I was thinking! There are a number of campaigns to ban this dangerous chemical see these websites. Don't forget, we should ban ammonium nitrate, a very popular explosive fertilizer.

There are also rich maniacs in our world and people with knoledge about these weapons. They are the real big threat.   

...because people with money can get almost anything they want, regardless of a ban.

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