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The Military Government Transportation Technology

Nuclear Truckers Haul Warheads Across US 461

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-can't-the-history-channel-make-a-show-about-that dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "As you weave through interstate traffic, you're unlikely to notice a plain-looking Peterbilt tractor-trailer or have any idea that inside the cab an armed federal agent operates a host of electronic countermeasures to keep outsiders from accessing his heavily armored cargo: a nuclear warhead. Adam Weinstein writes that the Office of Secure Transportation (OST) employs nearly 600 couriers to move bombs, weapon components, radioactive metals for research, and fuel for Navy ships and submarines between a variety of labs, reactors and military bases. Hiding nukes in plain sight and rolling them through major metropolitan centers raises a slew of security and environmental concerns, from theft to terrorist attack to radioactive spills. 'Any time you put nuclear weapons and materials on the highway, you create security risks,' says Tom Clements, a nuclear security watchdog for Friends of the Earth. For security, cabs are fitted with custom composite armor and lightweight armored glass, a redundant communications system that links the convoys to a monitoring center in Albuquerque, and the driver has the ability to disable the truck so it can't be moved or opened. The OST hires military veterans, particularly ex-special-operations forces (PDF), who are trained in close-quarters battle, tactical shooting, physical fitness, and shifting smoothly through the gears of a tractor-trailer. But accidents happen. In 1996, a driver flipped his trailer on a two-lane Nebraska hill road after a freak ice storm, sending authorities scrambling to secure its payload of two nuclear bombs; and in 2003, two trucks operated by private contractors had rollover accidents in Montana and Tennessee while hauling uranium hexafluoride, a compound used to enrich reactor and bomb fuel."
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Nuclear Truckers Haul Warheads Across US

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:14AM (#39097969)
    use UPS or Fedex?
    • by muckracer (1204794) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:46AM (#39098067)

      > use UPS or Fedex?

      US Postal Service, of course:

      "Fry like an Eagle...into the future~~" :-D :-/

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:34AM (#39098223)

      In the UK, nuclear weapon convoys are unmistakable, and they are incredibly heavily guarded. The weapons are carried in armoured articulated lorries, but they are accompanied by escorts from the police, the nuclear constabulary, the regular army, the marines, decoy trucks, recovery tow vehicles, fire tenders...

        Regional roads are closed entirely for them while they pass by, patrolled by police on foot. Nothing is allowed to block their way. They don't stop.

      This is how you're supposed to do it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:54AM (#39098315)

        This is how you're supposed to do it.

        Great job old chap!

        I can't wait for your next topic: oral hygiene.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:43AM (#39098509)

          This is how you're supposed to do it.

          Great job old chap!

          I can't wait for your next topic: oral hygiene.

          Ah, yes, because all of us Brits have awful teeth. It's odd how socialised medicine results in no-one ever going to the dentist... ~

          What we don't have is a culture of unnecessary orthodontic work and overpriced private practices being the only way to get treatment. Case in point: a few months ago I had two wisdom teeth removed, which cost me under £100 on the NHS. It wouldn't have cost me a penny if I couldn't have afforded it.

          I expect you'll want to take the piss out of our food next, which is always a bit rich coming from a country whose greatest contribution to cuisine is "cheese" (notice the quotes) in a can.

      • by sphealey (2855) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:08AM (#39098381)

        ===
        In the UK, nuclear weapon convoys are unmistakable, and they are incredibly heavily guarded. The weapons are carried in armoured articulated lorries, but they are accompanied by escorts from the police, the nuclear constabulary, the regular army, the marines, decoy trucks, recovery tow vehicles, fire tenders...

            Regional roads are closed entirely for them while they pass by, patrolled by police on foot. Nothing is allowed to block their way. They don't stop.
        ===

        While you are observing all that, the actual nuclear warhead is being moved in a regular looking lorry marked TESCO.

        sPh

        • by djlemma (1053860) on Monday February 20, 2012 @10:31AM (#39099109)

          === In the UK, nuclear weapon convoys are unmistakable, and they are incredibly heavily guarded. The weapons are carried in armoured articulated lorries, but they are accompanied by escorts from the police, the nuclear constabulary, the regular army, the marines, decoy trucks, recovery tow vehicles, fire tenders...

          Regional roads are closed entirely for them while they pass by, patrolled by police on foot. Nothing is allowed to block their way. They don't stop. ===

          While you are observing all that, the actual nuclear warhead is being moved in a regular looking lorry marked TESCO.

          sPh

          Initially, I read "a regular looking lorry marked TEPCO." The statement took a different meaning. :)

      • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:37AM (#39098481)

        This is how you're supposed to do it.

        I agree, but unfortunately that's a much more expensive proposition when the country in question is the size of the US.

      • by supercrisp (936036) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:39AM (#39098495)
        The US convoys are better protected than suggested by this article. When I lived in Knoxville, I was encouraged by an acquaintance to apply for one of these escort jobs when I complained about how little I was paid as a university teacher. Apparently he was in the process of applying, or was being courted to apply, as a combat veteran. Anyway, the work he described to me indicated a great deal of heavily-armed protection that was kept covert. He was able to send me to a website of a company that produced some of the vehicles used for escort duty; the ones I saw there had concealed mounts for remotely-operated miniguns. I don't have first-hand knowledge, and I'm presuming that my acquaintance also did not. I was relieved, actually, given the rumors I often heard about suspicious characters trying to monitor waste, parts, and weapons shipments out of Oak Ridge.
      • by ragefan (267937) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:27AM (#39098695)

        Except that the longest distance in Great Britain is ~600 miles North to South, that is roughly distance from New York City to Cincinnati. It is still another 2100 miles from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. The amount of coordination required to get all of that escort in place to move nuclear material from coast-to-coast means just about everyone would know when these trucks were moving.

      • by Tom (822) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:40AM (#39098755) Homepage Journal

        This is how you're supposed to do it.

        Like everything in security, it depends on your threat scenario.

        Among other things, leaving the UK is a lot easier and faster than leaving the USA. If the UK loses a warhead, it can be out of the country within a few hours on average. Losing a nuke is bad. Having to recover it out of foreign territory, even of a friendly nation, is a diplomatic nightmare.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          Among other things, leaving the UK is a lot easier and faster than leaving the USA.

          And the UK has how many nukes? Three? Four? The US has at least a dozen, and all that security would simply bankrupt us. The medical insurance coverage for the number of truck drivers would be astronomical.

          • The US has, at present, about 2600 nukes IIRC, down from a peak of something like 40,000. According to Wikipedia, UK maintains a total stockpile of about 225, of which 3/4 are operational at any given time. Also IIRC Russia has about 4000.

  • Trains? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:14AM (#39097971)

    Why not use trains, at least for most of the journey? The chance of an accident is much smaller.

    • Re:Trains? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by St.Creed (853824) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:15AM (#39097977)

      I guess that the predictability of the transport route would matter in this case.

      • Re:Trains? (Score:4, Informative)

        by xaxa (988988) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:25AM (#39097997)

        I guess that the predictability of the transport route would matter in this case.

        Mmmm... but the article has a map showing which interstate highways are used. As the article suggests, the greatest danger is the weather and bad driving (and I would add other vehicles as a high risk). Those risks are much, much lower with trains.

        • Re:Trains? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:46AM (#39098065)

          Hundreds or thousands of trucks go through a given stretch of interstate highway every day. Trains operate at a much smaller volume with fairly precise schedules and predictability. While it's not impossible to secure a train, its still a higher risk given the above mentioned facts. A terrorist could study train logistics and plausibly infer which trains are likely carrying nuclear cargo.

          From the standpoint of being hijacked, trucks on random unpublished routes are far less likely to be intercepted by bad guys than trains.

          • Re:Trains? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:11AM (#39098147)

            To add to that, you have the complication of security while the train sits in a marshalling yard, or is waiting to be offloaded onto a truck for final destination delivery anyway. There is a lot of waiting around that a train does, while a truck can be loaded in a high security area and immediately drive out and onto the road.

            • Re:Trains? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by MachineShedFred (621896) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:05AM (#39098603) Journal

              That can be mitigated in ways. On the train manifest, the particular container (I would imagine that if they sent this kind of stuff, it's specialized handling container would be in a standard ISO container) can be flagged as a "hot to chassis" delivery, which gets unloaded with priority. They unhook the car, roll it to a sidetrack, pull the container off the rail frame with a rubber-tire gantry, and drop it on a highway chassis. The truck then hooks up, and drives out the gate.

              None of this, however, prevents the problem of trains being very obvious, and not having the ability to change their route easily, nor the ability to change timing without screwing over every other train scheduled to use that section of track.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The nuclear flask trains seem to attract the press, green groups, locals, students and activist, federal police and state police and political leaders.
      The track has to be inspected, news leaks out.
      Everybody putting some spin on the move and the cops going deep under cover to earn work on their eco credibility.
      With a truck, you have daily, weekly, monthly base deliveries of everyday products, spares, unique spares and a few nuclear parts in a random mix of big brand and no brand contractors..
    • Re:Trains? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:42AM (#39098255) Homepage

      Why not use trains, at least for most of the journey?

      Two words: Atomic Hobo.

    • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:55AM (#39098323)

      For civiil nuclear transport anyway, don't know about weapons. Here's a video of them testing one of the nuclear containers:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJflu7z4QyI [youtube.com]

      • The transport containers used for military purposes are even designed/tested to an even higher standard.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:14AM (#39097973) Homepage Journal

    Not your usual trucker then.

  • Accidents happen (Score:5, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:15AM (#39097979) Homepage Journal

    Even the inventors of nuclear bombs didn't want the damned things to exist. They knew they were possible and somebody would invent them - so they did. Oppenheimer said afterward that on watching a nuclear test he was reminded of a verse from the Hindu scripture: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

    So we don't like these things. We don't want them to have to exist, but they do. And they've got to be moved around, which means over the roads we have. If you shovel enough shit, eventually you get dirty. Shit happens.

    • by Cryacin (657549) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:25AM (#39097999)

      "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

      Followed by Eisenhower's lesser known quote, "All your base are belong to us"

    • Re:Accidents happen (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cyberax (705495) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:27AM (#39098003)

      "Even the inventors of nuclear bombs didn't want the damned things to exist."

      Nope. Read "The Making of the Atomic Bomb", it's a wonderful book. It describes the history and development of the bomb.

      Some of the scientists were quite eager to create it.

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      you're not kidding, i used to drive an 18 wheeler, although my cargo was harmless = perishable food items in a reefer, i drove quite a few years and seen some horrific accidents involving tractor-trailer rigs, I wonder if one of those nuke hauling trucks ever hit something at 70+ MPH and was demolished scattering their payload all over the place contaminating the locale and who ever happens to be nearby that does not die in the impact, yeah = i seen wrecks like that
      • Meh (Score:3, Informative)

        by fireylord (1074571)
        I take it neither you or the (somewhat sensationalist) gp have any inkling of just how well physically protected the load is in these situations?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You forget that the damned things are made to be aborted after launch and come down with minimal scattering and no explosion.

    • Re:Accidents happen (Score:5, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:53AM (#39098087) Journal

      Even the inventors of nuclear bombs didn't want the damned things to exist.

      That's an incredibly one-dimentional view of things. There were certainly enthusiastic supporters, like Teller. And even Oppenheimer backed off on his recomendation to eliminate the arsenal, once he saw more of international politics.

      Honestly, nuclear bombs are unequivocablly a very good thing. It brought war to its obvious conclusion, and eliminated all delusions around the topic, and attached a stigma to warring nations that didn't exist before, and forced peace upon us all, even those who didn't want it.

      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:59AM (#39098101)

        What world are you living in? Nuclear weapons didn't bring peace, they brought subterfuge as conflicts between the US and the USSR had to be fought between proxy nations with "aid". It's quite easy to claim that the US and the USSR was at war several times without public acknowledgement.

        • LIMITED war (Score:5, Insightful)

          by coder111 (912060) <{coder} {at} {rrmail.com}> on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:27AM (#39098191)
          Total war on big scale hasn't happened since WW2. No other war has come anywhere close with the scale of casualties and destruction. How high is the chance that USA and USSR would have fought it out on full scale if not for nuclear weapons? Or else, how high is the chance that USSR would have overran western Europe and USA wouldn't have been able to do much about it.

          There has been no major war between world powers, and we have nuclear weapons to thank for that. No matter how much we hate them.

          --Coder
          • Re:LIMITED war (Score:4, Interesting)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:38AM (#39098487) Homepage

            How high is the chance that USA and USSR would have fought it out on full scale if not for nuclear weapons?

            Not as high as you think. Both sides had large armies and fleets of bombers capable of reducing cities to rubble with conventional weapons. Then surface to air missiles were invented and bombers became useless, so the focus shifted to ICBMs. Even if they were not nuclear tipped there would still have been little anyone could do to stop one taking out important buildings with conventional explosives.

            The USSR never had the resources to invade America, and America might have been able to invade the USSR but would have wound up with the same problems the Germans faced with long and bitter winters and difficult conditions. The terrain alone makes it very difficult, and China would never allow US tanks to simply roll through from that side.

            Chances are there would have been a similar cold war, with both sides unwilling to enter a major conflict.

            • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:32AM (#39098715)

              so the focus shifted to ICBMs. Even if they were not nuclear tipped there would still have been little anyone could do to stop one taking out important buildings with conventional explosives.

              ICBMs without nukes would have just been incredibly expensive V2s - a complete waste of funding, since they were never accurate enough to drop an HE bomb where it would do any good.

              As to long and bitter winters, it should be noted that we have Montana, Minnesota, Alaska, and Green Bay.

              If we can handle going bare-chested and wearing a cheese on our heads to a football game in the snow, I'm pretty sure we could deal with Russian winters ;-)

              • by Jappus (1177563)

                If we can handle going bare-chested and wearing a cheese on our heads to a football game in the snow, I'm pretty sure we could deal with Russian winters ;-)

                Jonking aside, I do think that there's a tiny difference between going to a 2-3 hour long football game session while drinking copious amounts of beer and returning to a well heated home, and trying to survive in Stalin^H^H^H^H^H^HVolgograd for 2-3 months while mostly subsisting on dirt and untreated water. While the enemy occasionally shoots at you. And you get bombarded quite a lot. And the last open fire you've seen was the one half your platoon was burnt to ashes in.

                Yep, both are real fun times. :)

            • by coder111 (912060) <{coder} {at} {rrmail.com}> on Monday February 20, 2012 @10:07AM (#39098919)
              ICBMs are expensive. Very expensive. And carrying conventional payload they wouldn't be able to do much damage, as they aren't that accurate.

              I do agree that USSR didn't have the capability to invade America, but they certainly had the ability and the will to overrun Western Europe- and arguably they still do. I doubt USA had the capability to invade European part of USSR, but I think invasion of Vladivostok would have been possible.

              Our mentality was shaped by the threat of nuclear war, so we don't even consider the war between major powers. Maybe the leaders would have been much more hawkish over the last 70 years without this threat? Given that due to human errors and miscommunication we almost came to "hot" war even with nuclear weapons on several occasions, it's much more likely the war would have broken out without them.

              Anyway, back on topic. I think this article is mainly anti-nuclear scare mongering. I don't see much wrong with transporting nuclear materials and weapons with trucks, as long as appropriate precautions are taken. And it looks like they are being taken. And I really doubt there are enough terrorist with enough training and equipment on US soil to mount a successful attack and steal nuclear materials or weapons and get away with them.

              --Coder
              • That's only true because the early ICBM's were not very accurate at hitting their target. As they say "close enough" only applies to horseshoes and hand grenades", and also to nuclear bombs. Today's GPS guided smart bombs can land within INCHES of their target, instead of kilometers. With that kind of accuracy a large conventional bomb would be quite deadly on an ICBM.

              • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 20, 2012 @02:28PM (#39101483) Journal

                they certainly had the ability and the will to overrun Western Europe- and arguably they still do

                I very much doubt that. Russian military might is mostly a legacy of the USSR, and it has to be maintained to remain effective - and it was pretty much not maintained at all throughout the 90s, and is still way behind schedule in that regard today.

                More importantly, what was state of the art 30 years ago is rapidly aging today. USSR, of course, had R&D in place to upgrade its weapons, but a great deal of it died when it crumbled. Some of it was salvaged, but only in very limited quantities. For example, Tu-160, which was planned for mass production - 16 units are operational today, all originally built in the USSR. Attack helicopters - Mi-28 and Ka-50/52 were both meant as a Soviet answer to Apache - and there's less than 80 operational today in Russian army, so it has to rely on Mi-24 which is not well suited for that role.

                In some categories, Russian army has little to no development or operational expertise, because Soviet research programs didn't get far enough before they were aborted. UAVs are one particularly sore point - USSR had a few reconnaissance ones, but even those are hopelessly outdated; and no UAVs with strike capabilities at all. Attempts to develop one inside the country didn't yield any good results, so ultimately they've decided to purchase the design from Israel, and manufacture it internally.

                Even when it comes to infantry weapons, Russian troops have to hump around with AK-74 in its stock configuration - crappy ergonomics, basic iron sights, and no modularity - for the lack of money to upgrade, all while shipping AK-103 to Venezuela (because they pay!) - and only this year we've seen a prototype of AK-12, which is meant to be the next-gen infantry rifle.

                There's also the lack of any ideology that would back the will to fight. In USSR, communism was that. In today's Russia, there's no equivalent, though there are half-hearted attempts to come up with something. Now, mind you, if the country is attacked, that won't matter - a threat from outside is unifier enough. But for some conquest abroad, you need an ideological platform to support it as just.

              • by lennier (44736)

                Our mentality was shaped by the threat of nuclear war, so we don't even consider the war between major powers.

                On the contrary, those of us who grew up in the 1980s lived with the constant expectation of imminent all-out war between major powers - it's just that we thought we'd get both a major-power war and a nuclear war. Rational evaluation of the probably outcome led to a constant sinking sense of grim fatalism and cynicism. In the 1990s, when the Cold War powers stepped back from the brink a little, and us 80s kids stepped into our fifteen minutes of media spotlight, that fear and cynicism manifested in the dark

            • by nedlohs (1335013)

              The USSR invading America was never the scenario in the first place.

              The USSR invalding Western Europe was the scenario.

      • by eyenot (102141) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:04AM (#39098369) Homepage

        Oh, you're right.

        I love how peacefully calm the world is, today, without any war and nobody worries about nukes any more. Hell, this article doesn't exist. You're having this conversation with your subconcious in a prolonged dream experience.if you die in this dream, you'll return to your successful life married to a young Nancy Reagan with a nice ass. But watch out, the longer you stay in this dream state the more volatile it will become. Simple fears will become overblown out of proportion, your mind will overreact explosively, and your delusion will protect you from dying, thus prklonging the tragedy. While millions of dream surrogates are being microwaved to instananeous crisps, you'll be snugly sniveling in your bunker wringing your hands over all the mustard flavored cheese curls you'll be able to have to your greedy self. You should, i repeat, should not have eaten the mustard flavored ones. Why is it always the mustard with you! OMG bombs on the highwaaaaayyyyyyy.....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        It brought war to its obvious conclusion, and eliminated all delusions around the topic, and attached a stigma to warring nations that didn't exist before, and forced peace upon us all, even those who didn't want it.

        Actually that was mainly thanks to Europe. Having just been through a second all-out war we didn't want a third and we made that happen through political means. War was not just impractical, it was unthinkable between western European nations. Combined with a UN that was far more effective than anything which came before it became virtually impossible to have any kind of major war between developed nations.

      • Re:Accidents happen (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tom (822) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:33AM (#39098725) Homepage Journal

        and forced peace upon us all,

        You have an extremely... american definition of "us all".

        There have been (depending on how you count) around 150-200 wars since 1945. At least 10 mio. people have died in only the 5 largest of these (Korea, Vietnam, Iran-Iraq, Sudan, Congo).

        The only parts of the world that have been largely peaceful since WW2 are Western Europe and the USA.

        • by onyxruby (118189)

          By your own count on the number of people killed it has been a phenomenal success. WWI alone saw an estimated 8.5 million [pbs.org] killed and WWII saw another 20 million [warchronicle.com] killed. And I'm not even including civilian casualties.

          Consider that the population of the world has expanded from roughly 2 billion in WW2 to 7 billion now that is an achievement otherwise unheralded in human history. Insinuate what you will about humanity but it took nuclear weapons to bring about today's age of relative peace.

          Study your history,

        • by L3370 (1421413)
          Maybe they should get some nukes and join the peace community like us!
          /flamesuit
      • by JSBiff (87824)

        "It brought war to its obvious conclusion. . ."

        Tell that to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam, or. . . well, an almost endless list of nations which have been torn apart by wars which happened in the last 70 years.

        I guess the logical conclusion of war must be that it happens to those nations which aren't "lucky enough" to have nuclear weapons.

    • by lennier (44736)

      So we don't like these things. We don't want them to have to exist, but they do. A

      Yes, we really don't like these things. We don't like them so much that by some unexplainable mysterious accident of fate, sixty years worth of research and infrastructure devoted entirely to incinerating cities full of civilians just... somehow happened. It was the darnedest thing. One day, out of the blue, here was Enrico Fermi wondering what the heck this strange alien contraption was that had materialised in his squash court, the next a bunch of German V2 scientists just sort of wandered into Texas in a

    • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:06AM (#39098377) Homepage

      Albert Einstein said: "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

      He also said that if he had known the Nazis would not make atomic bombs, he never would have worked on them. Of course, now even digital watches (or at least smartphones) have enough computer power to design the essence of atomic weapons...

      Here is a website by psychiatrist Donald Pet about moving to that newer way of thinking we need:
      http://anwot.org/ [anwot.org]

      Here is related stuff I have written:
      http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
      "Nuclear weapons are ironic because they are about using space age systems to fight over oil and land. Why not just use advanced materials as found in nuclear missiles to make renewable energy sources (like windmills or solar panels) to replace oil, or why not use rocketry to move into space by building space habitats for more land? ... These militaristic socio-economic ironies would be hilarious if they were not so deadly serious. ..."

      Sometimes when you find ourself in a hole and you don't want to be there, the best thing to do is stop digging and start thinking in a new way about how you got there and how to get out.

      • by coder111 (912060) <{coder} {at} {rrmail.com}> on Monday February 20, 2012 @10:18AM (#39099007)
        For the budget of Iraq war, we could have had a functional colony on Mars RIGHT NOW. For the price of stimulus package, how high a percentage of our economy would be running on renewable energy?

        Free Market is a TERRIBLE way to distribute resources. It optimizes corporate profits and personal greed and rewards quarter thinking. It does not promote advancement of society, but only of small number of people. Free Market does NOT encourage investment in risky long term enterprises. And by doing hard and risky long term projects is how we can advance the humanity. Corporate governorship is all about preserving profits and status quo- they will not invest in disruptive technology and will interfere with others trying to emerge any technology that threatens them. And we need disruptive technologies if we are going to survive next 100 years when we run out of cheap oil and easily accessible freshwater, and agriculture becomes much much more difficult.

        I don't know how the world should be governed, but it should definitely not be governed by corporate lobbyism.

        --Coder
  • Cart does not push self, it pulls itself in this case.

    (Apologies to TF2's cart-push gamemode)

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:34AM (#39098035)
    I heard about this some years ago, and the reason was rather sinister.
    The way I heard it is that nuclear non-proliferation treaties that the US has signed to limit the number of warheads in its arsenal. However warheads in transit do not count towards this total, and in the interests of security the US is not obliged to reveal how many warheads it has in transit at any one time or where they are going. By keeping a percentage of it arsenal perpetually driving around the US, the US government can effectively sidestep nuclear warhead limits imposed by non-proliferation treaties.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:45AM (#39098063)

      The way I heard it is that nuclear non-proliferation treaties that the US has signed to limit the number of warheads in its arsenal. However warheads in transit do not count towards this total, and in the interests of security the US is not obliged to reveal how many warheads it has in transit at any one time or where they are going. By keeping a percentage of it arsenal perpetually driving around the US, the US government can effectively sidestep nuclear warhead limits imposed by non-proliferation treaties.

      Bogus. Read the treaties. Here's a good place to start:

      http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/140035.pdf

      The reason is that it's far cheaper than flying them around, not to mention that an airplane crash is far more likely to cause either widespread contamination than a semitruck flipping over. The trailers can be designed to contain the materials compeltely at the energies involved - what are they going to do on an aircraft, put the nuclear materials inside a giant "black box"? (-;

      Another risk involved with transporting them by air is that there's a much higher chance of them getting lost. There are in fact a good number of warheads buried in inaccessible locations because of aircraft mishaps, including a few in the CONUS.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      It seems like it would be cheaper to simply lie about how many you have.

    • by Stickerboy (61554) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:29AM (#39098201) Homepage

      I heard about this some years ago, and the reason was rather sinister.

      The way I heard it is that nuclear non-proliferation treaties that the US has signed to limit the number of warheads in its arsenal. However warheads in transit do not count towards this total, and in the interests of security the US is not obliged to reveal how many warheads it has in transit at any one time or where they are going. By keeping a percentage of it arsenal perpetually driving around the US, the US government can effectively sidestep nuclear warhead limits imposed by non-proliferation treaties.

      Given that the United States, under current treaty limits, has thousands of warheads more than it needs to demolish every potential adversary in the world several times over, such a conspiracy would be both ridiculous and a huge waste of resources. What would keeping 50 more secret warheads traveling as a security risk accomplish when you have more than 5,000 already on hand?

      • by bmajik (96670)

        The # of remaining active service warheads is surprisingly small. The entire ground-based ICBM fleet is 3 different detachments of 50 missiles each of the Minuteman. They are in MT, WY, and ND.

        Each minuteman is fitted with 3 warheads in the 300-500KT range.

        So, the entire active-force US ICBM fleet is 450 warheads.

        Of course, this does not cover sea-based ICBMs. The numbers here are actually more substantial: there are 14 Ohio class boats in service, each with 24 Trident missiles. A trident can be equippe

  • by xmundt (415364) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:46AM (#39098069)

    Greetings and Salutations.
              Nothing surprising about this. Containers of radioactive materials, and nuclear weapons have been trucked around the country for decades. Please note that in that time, There have been a total of three accidents with zero loss of nuclear materials. The bottom line is that the nuclear materials have to be moved somehow, and, overall the current transport system has proved to be safe and effective.
              The world is a dangerous place, but, before we run about screaming that the sky is falling, perhaps we should look at the probabilities of a given disaster. There is always a non-zero chance that any disaster can happen - for that matter quantum theory tells us that there is a non-zero chance that all the oxygen molecules in a room will end up on the left half of the room, leaving nothing but nitrogen on the right half. However, in many cases (like these) the probability of a disaster that releases radiation or puts significant amounts of it in an enemy's hands (or moves all the oxygen out of half of a room) actually happening is so low that it might happen once in the entire lifetime of the universe.
              I would prefer it that we lived in a world where nuclear energy was only used for peaceful purposes, so we did not have to have nuclear weapons to shuffle around the countryside. However, that is not the case. In addition, I want to remind y'all that the US has been transporting those stores of nuclear devices to a secure facility where they are being disassembled. Would you prefer that the DOD build a recycling plant a few blocks down from the local high-school and do the work at the storage location of the warheads? I would think not....I would rather see them transported to a recycling facility that is experienced and out of the population dense areas of the USA.
    pleasant dreams

  • by dell623 (2021586) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:54AM (#39098091)

    What exactly is the point of this piece? To inform us that heavily armoured and secured nuclear cargo moves across the U.S, is that such a massive surprise? 'Tom Clements' is not a 'nuclear security watchdog', he is an anti nuclear activist, working for the heavily anti nuclear lobby group called Friends of the Earth. It is extremely disingenuous to present him as an expert, by definition he has no clue about the kind of security concerns involved. His comments suggest that the 'nuclear weapons on the highway' are armed devices that would go off if the driver goes in the wrong lane or takes a sharp turn. A terrorist capable of breaking through the kind of defences these trucks have would be able to cause a lot more damage by directing those efforts towards the nearest busy downtown area. There is nothing to suggest that there was any security breach in any of the incidents mentioned, that the security arrangements didn't work as intended and that any lives were put at risk.

  • Placards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smurd (48976) * on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:55AM (#39098095)

    I hope they have their own cleanup and recovery team following them at all times. Since the pictures show a truck with no placards, any normal Emergency Services team must be deemed expendable.

    • by Alioth (221270)

      The containers they put them in are incredibly strong. This is why they go by land, not by air, because it's easy to make something that goes at 50-odd mph very strong just by adding more metal.

      The British tested a nuclear flask by crashing a train into it at 100 mph, with the container angled such that it was struck at its most vulnerable point. The locomotive alone weighed on the order of 120 tonnes, and it had a few carriages behind it too. The nuclear container was not breached despite experiencing forc

  • US, Pakistan, Nukes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:11AM (#39098145) Homepage

    Anybody remember the Atlantic story [theatlantic.com] from a while ago about Pakistan transporting its nukes?

    It was presented as "Oh noes, they move their nukes in ordinary trucks [theatlanticwire.com] instead of military convoys. Maybe we should invade them and secure their arsenal."

    Lo and behold, the DoE is using the same method in the US.

    • by Rostin (691447) on Monday February 20, 2012 @10:10AM (#39098945)
      Except they aren't. Even the submitted articles, tendentious as they are, admit that the trucks are not ordinary. They are also under constant escort by a pair of SUVs that contain god knows what, which the articles omit for whatever reason. Beyond that, I'd say the concerns over Pakistan stem as much from this..

      Pakistan is an unstable and violent country located at the epicenter of global jihadism, and it has been the foremost supplier of nuclear technology to such rogue states as Iran and North Korea.

      ..(From the first article you linked to, FYI) than from any superficial similarities in the ways that the US and Pakistan transport nuclear materials.

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:04AM (#39098371)

    Hypothetically, could terrorists or a determined government such as the Iranians steal nuclear weapons from a convoy like this?

    Well, thinking about the problem step by step. How COULD an evil entity with a lot of resources (but not enough resources to make a bomb from scratch) steal a nuke?

    First, they have to KNOW which convoy has the actual warheads, versus merely parts. Theoretically, secretly placed cameras outside the military bases known to have nukes being sent for disassembly could spot a convoy. If the convoys are multiple trucks in a row, alone with obvious escort vehicles, then MAYBE those are the ones with the bombs.

    This is where the U.S. government might or might not be sneaky about it. One obvious trick would be to use decoy convoys that are heavily armed and escorted, and then to slip the truck with the actual warheads in with a bunch of trucks leaving the post returning from food deliveries. And to space the unmarked escort vehicles out so that it isn't obvious which truck they are protecting.

    And remember, from the point of view of the Iranian terrorists, this is a trick that could only work once. Once they try to steal a bomb, the U.S. government would probably just cease transporting nukes by road at all, forever.

    So they have to KNOW which truck it is. So they need a traitor, no other way. That would probably be difficult. If some sleeper agent tried to enlist tommorow, and to steer their career towards this area of the military, what are the chances they would succeed? I have no idea, but I am guessing that the military assigns people to sensitive positions like this with some degree of randomness. The terrorist sleeper agent could easily end up, even if they passed all the security checks, somewhere completely unrelated.

    Perhaps they could replace a civilian contractor working on the post somewhere close enough to plant a bug or something. Dunno.

    Ok, so the terrorists somehow know which truck. Now they need to stop the truck. They have to get ahead of it and set up an ambush.

    Here's where this is somewhat plausible : in some rural stretch of road, far away from a populated area or military base, with terrain on either side of the road unable to support a truck, the terrorists set up their ambush. They stage an accident to cause the trucks to stop, and use fifty caliber or 20 millimeter rifles to disable the engines of the trucks. They then need enough shooters to win a gunbattle against the escorts AND the QRF. Who have heavy weapons and special forces training.

    How many might it take? 50 men? A hundred? And all of them have to keep quiet until the attack. NONE of them would survive the retaliation, participating in something like this would be a guaranteed life prison sentence or death penalty. Probably the death penalty.

    Anyways, the terrorists use armor piecing ammo from 50 caliber or 20 millimeter rifles to shoot through the armor of all the escort vehicles and the trucks. They attempt to jam the radios used by the escorts. They now have to somehow recover the warheads.

    This is where surprises come in. How about a claymore mine embedded in the side of one of the trailers? Or some other defense? What if these convoys are escorted by attack helicopters? There's a lot of things that a traitor might not necessarily know about.

    Ok, so they do manage to get to the trailers, and they use shaped charges to slice through the armored metal of the trailers. They find a warhead, and they have a cargo lift to remove it.

    How long does this take? The moment the word gets out, EVERY available resources, every soldier, every jet, every cop, everything is going to be mobilized to stop these people. But this does take time, and if the terrorists are well equipped with lifting equipment and the right tools, they might manage to load the bombs up and attempt their escape. This is where even 1 surviving special forces commando trucker could make a difference, right out of a movie like Under Siege 2. I c

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:48AM (#39098807)

      Now they need to stop the truck. They have to get ahead of it and set up an ambush.

      Here's where it gets completely implausible.

      Because now they have to move their guys to a position ahead of the truck, in some isolated spot in the middle of nowere, rehearse the mission, then wait for the truck to get there.

      And if the truck takes a different route (maybe a truck full of gravel spills and closes the interstate they were planning on taking - yes, that happens, I was delayed getting home the other day for something just that stupid - gravel on the road due to a dumptruck spill), they have to move their guys to another spot, and rehearse again...

      Remember, it's impossible to plan the attack more than a few hours ahead, what with the possibility that you're wrong about the exact route (or the driver stops for a quickie at a truckstop). Coupled with the need to move your guys into position after you know the route, it's not quite so easy as one might think....

  • by crow (16139) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:51AM (#39098557) Homepage Journal

    I remember seeing what was obviously a nuclear convoy in Wyoming in 1992. There were four or five slightly oversized 18-wheelers with SAC license plates. In front and behind and between each of them were armored cars with police lights and machine guns. Overhead there was a helicopter. They were just pulling on, and I ended up cutting into the middle of the convoy briefly so that one of the armored cars could move up to the front.

    They were traveling somewhat slowly, probably 50mph, so I lost sight of them fairly quickly, but a ways on ahead was another armored car, and I noticed another helicopter scouting ahead. Further on ahead I saw a tow truck removing a disabled car.

    That was an interesting day.

  • by rust627 (1072296) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:54AM (#39098833)

    A Japanese artist has assembled a map of the world with a moving timeline showing the location and relative scale of each nuclear detonation from 1945 to 1998

    It also has a score card,of who is responsible for each detonation

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9lquok4Pdk [youtube.com]

    fascinating

  • Silly motorists... (Score:4, Informative)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday February 20, 2012 @10:21AM (#39099037) Homepage

    You thought the interstate highway system was built for civilian purposes?

  • by acoustix (123925) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:24AM (#39099561) Homepage

    The main push for the Interstate Highway System was to provide the military access to roads they deemed critical for national defense.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_auxiliary_Interstate_Highways [wikipedia.org]

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