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Boston Globe
Editorial

"...Because it is crucial that the American public understand the reasons for the fear haunting policy makers, tonight's "Frontline" documentary "Loose Nukes" (9 p.m. on Channel 2) performs a true public service. Investigating three known cases of fissile materials being smuggled out of Russia, the program discloses the frightening conjunction of factors that has made it easy to steal and sell Russia's plutonium and highly enriched uranium to the highest bidder.

The scientists and technicians at Russia's nuclear institutes have been pauperized and demoralized. Security at the nuclear sites has melted away in the transition from a police state to the chaos of a primitive capitalism. And "Frontline" uncovers hints that Russia's security apparatus may be complicit with the smugglers.

Because the dreadful has already happened, because significant quantities of nuclear materials have been surreptitiously smuggled abroad, this threat to US security is neither hypothetical nor distant. The illicit export of Russia's fissile materials must be stopped at the source."

Newark Star Ledger
By Jerry Krupnick

"Tonight's FRONTLINE contribution follows the trail of the "Loose Nukes," led by producer Sherry Jones, as she investigates the threat of nuclear smuggling in the post-Cold War world..."

"...Her investigation begins in 1994, when 800 milligrams of bomb-grade uranium was purchased in Landshut, Germany, by an undercover police agent. It goes on to Munich, where three-quarters of a pound of plutonium was seized in a sting operation and then on to Prague for the mother lode, where three men were arrested with six pounds of uranium in their possession.

Where did all this deadly material come from? The Soviet Union, before its breakup, had the largest stockpile of nuclear explosives of any nation in history, more than 1,400 metric tons of the stuff.

With the new freedom that came with the Soviet dissolution, the opportunities to steal this stash was comparatively easy. Jones determines that's exactly what a loose cannon of a Russian engineer did.

Jones follows the trail of the material and discovers that the Prague smuggler, who came from Russia was supplied with the uranium by a man named Eduard Baranov. And although the Russian and Czech police did not seem to know where to find this middleman, she manages to dig up Baranov, with the help of a reporter from Izvestia, and to pin down his story of where the uranium came from and where he disposed of it.

'Moscow,' Jones concludes, 'is still silent' despite the thefts and the international trail she has uncovered. 'That leaves us with the frightening possibility that other nuclear material (in the former Soviet Union arsenal) might have been stolen as well.'

Yeah, as they say in the TV spook shows, 'Be afraid. Be very afraid.' This is the real thing."

New York Daily News
By Eric Mink

"At 9, FRONTLINE moves in with "Loose Nukes," a chilling piece of tough investigative reporting, a year in the making, about the terrifying international trade in nuclear former USSR.

This is stuff that terrorist groups and outlaw states could all-too-easily fashion into explosive devices capable of wreaking death and destruction on a scale that would make Oklahoma City look like a fist fight in the subway.

Written and produced by award-winning journalist Sherry Jones, reported by Jones and Eric Nadler and directed by Foster Wiley, "Loose Nukes" goes beyond previous stories that have focused solely on the appalling lack of security at nuclear facilities in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.

Instead, the team attempts to trace back to Russian plants specific batches of enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium that have been intercepted by authorities in Europe. Working through law-enforcement agencies, fellow journalists abroad and some sleazy middlemen-smugglers, Jones and her colleagues follow leads to Germany, the former Czechoslovakia and several cities in Russia..."

"...Indeed, with Russia's economy in crisis and a criminal mentality loose in the land, Jones' report suggests that the government there is only belatedly making efforts to account for and secure its huge store of nuclear materials.

But a national sense of embarrassment and denial are complicating a task made even harder by indications that at least some government officials may be participating in and profiting from nuclear smuggling.

"Loose Nukes" is important reporting on an important story. And its content is anything but reassuring about the world's prospects for avoiding nuclear terror."

New York Times
By Walter Goodman

"Loose Nukes" begins with the warning that chaos and corruption in the new Russia are putting tons of nuclear material at risk and devotes much of the rest of the hour to reports of smuggling. The detective work of Sherry Jones, though inconclusive about the sources of the uranium and plutonium that have been spirited to Germany and Czechoslovakia, is loaded with suspicion that Russian scientists are in on it and Russian officials are covering up..."

"...With the help of and Izvetia reporter, Ms. Jones catches up with one man who has confessed that he was in on a uranium-smuggling operation, but he declines to tell where or whom the stuff came from.

So far, the narrator notes, no Russian nuclear materials have been traced to rogue states or to terrorist groups. But the program's ominous point is that security is so weak at nuclear installations spread across what used to be the Soviet Union and corruption is so rife that it may be only a matter of time before small time smugglers like those identified here make a big connection.

The repeated suggestion, fallout from these incidents, is that Russian officials have no interest in any investigation. The program, which untypically for FRONTlINE offers more in the way of mood than of matter leaves viewers with the "nightmare scenario" that "nuclear material," lots of it, could be moved out of Russia if high-level corrupt insiders are involved."

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