A nuke hidden in a
container or in an oil tanker explodes in a Western port: that is the
nightmare of top defense and security analysts, who are turning to new
technology to combat the threat.
With controversy still swirling over America's possible port
deal with a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, a major oil power
with terror connections, new concerns are being raised among defense and
security analysts about the threat of a nuclear weapons being delivered to
the U.S. aboard an oil tanker.
While the possibility of such a sneak attack has been considered before,
new alarms were set off last week when the Saudi Arabian branch of al-Qaida
issued a fatwa providing religious justification for its attempt to
car-bomb the huge oil-processing plant in Abqaiq.
"Targeting of oil interests is legitimate economic jihad," said the
63-page document posted on an Islamist website. "Oil is the basis of
modern industry and the backbone of industries in infidel countries."
The fatwa serves as a reminder of a specific warning given to the U.S.
Congress last year that an oil tanker could be used to transport a nuclear
weapon to a port in the U.S.
"The Middle East is the dominant source of anti-American terrorism,"
explained the report by Jonathan Medalia, specialist in national defense,
foreign affairs, defense and trade. "The United States imports an average
of more than 2 million barrels of crude oil a day from Persian Gulf
nations. "This crude oil is transported by ship, and it would be very
difficult to detect a bomb inside a supertanker."
The report very specifically is referring to a nuclear bomb.
Such a device could not be readily detected by gamma rays because of the
size of supertankers and the thickness of their steel. Neither could
neutron activation detect such a weapon with any certainty because
neutrons would be absorbed by the oil, explained the report, titled
"Nuclear Terrorism: A Brief Review of Threats and Responses."
Not only would this be an ingenious means of getting a nuclear warhead to
the U.S., says the report, but the effects of detonation of the weapon
would be magnified by the location.
"A bomb in a tanker could devastate an oil port by the blast and by
secondary fires in nearby refineries and oil storage tanks," it explains.
"A tanker bomb might be used against other maritime targets, such as the
Panama Canal. And, if a bomb in a shipping container could lead to the
shutdown of container traffic, seriously damaging the world economy, a
tanker bomb might by the same token lead to the suspension of crude oil
shipments, with similar results."
The report raises the distinct possibility that such an attack would – in
addition to its killing power and destructiveness upon the primary target
– result in "a halt of crude oil shipments worldwide for some time."
One of the responses suggested for dealing with such a threat is the
construction of offshore inspection ports, much like those proposed by
Robert Pfriender of Alliance Development Corp.
Robert Pfriender, says everyone is really missing the point on port
security. "The real concern," he tells "is that if a weapon of mass
destruction arrives at one of mainland ports, it will be much too late for
any possible security measure to have any effect."
A 12-kiloton nuclear
device (small by today's standards, and similar in size to that used on
Japan) detonated at the Brooklyn Redhook Terminal would likely kill 2
million people or more as the radioactive fallout rains downwind on the
completely unprotected citizens of Long Island, his company estimates.
Hamid Mir, an acclaimed Pakistani journalist says bin Laden had managed to
acquire nuclear weapons for use in the great jihad against the United
"It is not difficult [to obtain tactical nukes]," the al-Qaida chieftain
said, "not if you have contacts in Russia with other militant groups. They
are available for $10 million and $20 million."
Mir, who conducted the only post-9/11 interviews with bin Laden and Ayman
al-Zawahiri, says that he remains in sporadic indirect contact with the
elusive emir and other al-Qaida officials.
(View full reports at: Joseph
Farah's G2 Bulletin Reports G2 Bulletin has complete, in-depth
coverage of the ports controversy.)
Smart Reasons to STOP Port Deal!