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The Nation: Backyard A-Bombs

1 minute read
TIME

Nuclear weapons have always been considered the deadly cudgels of superpowers. That may not be true in the future. According to a University of Virginia law professor, the possibility that lunatic-fringers and gangsters may some day be able to make their own nuclear devices is no longer just the stuff of science fiction but a reality.

Speaking before the American Nuclear Society and the Atomic Industrial Forum in Washington, D.C., Professor Mason Willrich, who chaired an international body of experts studying the problem, said that most scientists in the field “consider the design and manufacture of a crude nuclear explosive device to be no longer an extremely difficult task technically.” He warned that both the amount of nuclear material and the number of people who have access to it are growing at a disturbing rate. A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Commission pointed out that the construction of even the most rudimentary device would require a team of highly trained technicians. Still, the slightest possibility of backyard A-bombs is so fearful that the AEC is spending several million dollars a year to provide extra protection for fissionable material.

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