On the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Congress according to NTI: "We recognize that our first and most urgent priority is to prevent nuclear weapons from coming into this country and preventing dirty bombs from being constructed and detonated."
But: How secure are the nuclear weapons that are already in the United States?
Eric Hundman writes about "America's loose nukes" in FP Passport: "Last week, the Pentagon admitted that a B-52 had mistakenly flown nuclear-armed cruise missiles across the United States. And worse, for almost fourteen hours no one at the base of departure, on the bomber itself, or at the base of arrival had any idea something was wrong."
North Dakota News adds: "The airmen who first discovered the bombs could not believe what they were seeing and had a hard time convincing superiors that the missiles on the bomber were, in fact, carrying nuclear weapons."
More unbelievable news: According to a new biography, President Bush "is a big fan of Austin Powers and in particular, the character of Dr. Evil, imitating him often along the corridors of the White House," writes Nicole Belle in Crooks and Liars and adds: "Sometimes the jokes just write themselves..."
Personal conclusion: Neither this kind of White House humor (if the story in the biography is true) nor the air force's screw up is encouraging. In less open societies than the US, such nuclear screw ups would not become public: I wonder how many of these incidents happen in Russia, China, India, Pakistan or Israel... Will the movie Broken Arrow be reality one day?
Nukes are just too dangerous in the wrong hands. We need a world free of nuclear weapons. Since even Kissinger claims to support this goal, we should pay attention.
Related: "America, stop waving the nuclear threat at potential adversaries," says Jack Mendelsohn, who was a US State Department official and a member of the US SALT and START delegations. Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, he criticizes that "four Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, Jim Gilmore, and Rudy Giuliani have already expressed their willingness to use 'tactical' nuclear weapons against Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons." He argues:
Every time the United States threatens a potential adversary with nuclear weapons it tells the world that these weapons are acceptable instruments of modern warfare and that there are no political or moral constraints on US behavior. It is overwhelmingly in the US national interest to preserve the "taboo" on nuclear weapons use and to seek to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in US security policy.