NOT EXACTLY ENCOURAGING - AT 4:54 P.M. ET: Terrorism targeted at nuclear plants is the kind of thing we don't take seriously until it happens, or almost happens. This story from India, a nuclear power, reminds us of the need for vigilance:
THE deliberate contamination of a water cooler at an Indian atomic energy plant has raised serious security concerns, just two weeks after the country's nuclear installations were placed on high alert because of a suspected terror threat.
India's nuclear officials were in damage control last night over the breach, in which an employee is believed to have contaminated a staff water cooler with a radioactive isotope which, when purified, is used as a trigger in thermo-nuclear bombs.
With debate raging over the potential for Pakistan's nuclear weapons to fall into malevolent hands, the Indian security breach will raise further questions over nuclear safety in the region.
The contamination was detected last week at the Kaiga nuclear power plant in the southern Indian state of Karnataka when routine urine samples found that 55 workers at the site had unusually high levels of radioactivity in their bodies.
It was eventually traced to a water cooler outside the nuclear power plant's "operating island".
But the safety breach became public on Sunday night only when the country's Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar admitted an investigation was under way into the act of sabotage, suspected to have been committed by an insider.
COMMENT: This is India, a relatively stable, reasonably modern country. Pakistan, next door, is in perpetual chaos. Its nuclear weapons are stored in one of the most unstable parts of the country. We have a critical interest - a direct, personal interest - in maintaining the security of the Pakistani arsenal, security that would be threatened if Afghanistan, next door, falls into the wrong hands.
Notice the level of interest in this threat within the left wing of the Democratic Party. If you give me a week, I might be able to find it.
November 30, 2009