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UK reveals nuclear bomb plans

UK reveals nuclear bomb plans

LONDON, England -- Britain's Ministry of Defence has confirmed it has made public information describing in detail the make-up of a nuclear bomb.

The plans give complete cross-sections, precise measurements and full details of materials used for all the components, including the plutonium core and the initiator that sets off the chain reaction causing the blast.

According to Conservative opposition defence spokesman Bernard Jenkin, the information is "a monstrous free gift to terrorists" who he said could use the information to creat a do-it-yourself atomic weapon. He said he would be pressing the British government for a full explanation.

"The fact that this information has been lying in the public records office is extraordinary. Such information about may already be in the public domain, but why needlessly help rogue states and terrorist organisations with such comprehensive instructions on how to make an atom bomb?"

The plans relate to Britain's first operational nuclear bomb, the 15 kilotonne Blue Danube, which was in service with the Royal Air Force's B-bomber fleet from 1953 to 1961.

Retired nuclear engineer Brian Burnell told the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper that the information on the Blue Danube bomb amounted to step-by-step instructions on how to make a nuclear weapon.

The newspaper said the ministry had also released papers to the Public Record Office describing ways that such a bomb could be smuggled into the country.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed to CNN that information relating to the Blue Danube bomb had been declassified seven years ago and put in the public domain at the UK's Public Record Office.

Observers say it seems likely that the decision was taken in the light of the amount of detailed material on nuclear weapons already posted on the Internet, and the judgment that the information from 40 years ago posed no threat.

Making the bomb would require the possession of weapons-grade plutonium.

But Burnell, who worked on the British atomic weapons programme, told the Daily Telegraph that the plans were enough to enable a terrorist to make an atomic bomb without difficulty.

Burnell said a prospective bombmaker would need only a basic machine shop and the right components -- including the weapons-grade plutonium -- to make the bomb according to the instructions in the files.

"These documents should never have been declassified and since the events of September 11 there is a case for removing them from public access," he told the newspaper.

Last month researchers based at Stanford University in the United States said they had compiled a database of lost, stolen and misplaced nuclear material.

Their research showed that over the past 10 years, at least 88 pounds (40kg) of weapons-usable plutonium and uranium had been stolen from poorly protected facilities in the former Soviet Union. Most but not all of the material was eventually recovered.

Russia has said its nuclear inventory is fully accounted for.

Last month it was revealed that the U.S. had received an alert in October that terrorists were planning an attack using a smuggled Russian nuclear bomb. The plot was later deemed "not credible."


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