By Rowan Wolf of Uncommon Thought Journal
While it sounds like a plot for a not very good who-done-it, Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-pat in London, was poisoned with polonium 210 in a sushi restaurant, and dies three weeks later (The radioactive spy). Litvinenko accused Putin on his death bed, but Putin says it wasn’t him. Now the mystery spreads – as does the fear of collateral contamination. However, there is a larger concern that is not being discussed – rogue nuclear weapons.
Perhaps, like me, you had never heard of polonium 210. It is a manufactured radioactive element that is most commonly utilized in thermo-electric generators. It is intensely radioactive, but has a relatively short half-life. The Los Alamos website informs us that it can be commercially purchased from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (see note).
Polonium 210 has a half-life of roughly 140 days, and could be used as the “initiator” for a nuclear bomb (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)
Some fingers are pointing at China, as “It is one of the few countries – the United States is another – with the specialist laboratory to produce Polonium 210 as a deadly weapon.” It is used in China’s space program. However, according to Wikipedia, both the US and Russia have regularly used it in space operations as well. Britain also produces weapons grade polonium (Britain’s Nuclear Weapons), and reportedly weaponized polonium is one of Russia’s contributions to Iran’s nuclear program.
ITAR-TASS reports that the “Cobra Committee” (Scotland Yard’s emergency group for a national security crisis) has taken the lead in the investigation into Litvinenko’s assassination. The Cobra committee membership varies depending on the national emergency. The fact that a national emergency committee has been called is very significant considering that any collateral contamination would almost certainly be localized to those who came in direct contact with bodily fluids from Litvinenko. It makes perfect sense if the concern is that someone has acquired a significant quantity of weapons grade polonium that could be used as a nuclear reaction initiator.
Further, the clock might be running given the 140 day half life of polonium 210. Anyone planning an explosion would have that long to do it. The other scenario is that someone has access to an ongoing supply, which raises the specter of an ongoing radioactive threat.
So, the question remains of who poisoned Litvinenko? How did they track the poisoning back to a Sushi bar, and why that location? Polonium is a weapon with fingerprints. But whose?
Apparently Litvinenko had an “extensive” article in Chechenpress (no longer a viable site) on the use of terrorism as a method of controlling populations (article is also missing on the web). From the quoted article at McDuff’s site, the gist of the article was that states might (are) use terrorism as reason for increasing militaristic control measures on the general population. Further, that Russia was doing exactly that.
[Litvinenko wrote a a book titled “BLOWING UP RUSSIA: Acts of terror, abductions, and contract killings organized by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.” Available here as an English Word file.]
So we have a tangled picture here. Terrorist, or a state acting as terrorist? Regardless, there is much more potentially at stake here than collateral radiation exposure from the assassination of Litvinenko.
[Note: ORNL is a government (DoE) facility managed by UT-Battelle which is a “non-profit” 50/50 partnership between the University of Tennessee (UT) and Battelle, “a global science and technology enterprise that develops and commercializes technology and manages laboratories for customers.]