Reactions to Loose Nukes

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Dear FRONTLINE,
Thanks for having the courage to research and present the subject. I have residence experience in Russia and with Russians, and the frustrations of dealing with them in matters that, in their perception, could embarrass the great power status of Russia in the international arena make nearly all communications with them an exercise in futility. Your program touched some raw nerve endings in me and and I am deeply troubled by the prospects for the future.

From your experience with the subject to date, would you offer some pointers as to as to US or international agencies which are seeking to deal with the challenge effectively. I have a background in in intelligence analysis and skills in German and Russian languages. I'd like to send along a resume.

Keep up the excellent work you do.
L.B.D.
Seattle, WA


Dear FRONTLINE,
As the former Soviet Union declines further into decay, the rest of the world must assume the worst case scenario, that within a short period of time, hostile states or organizations will produce nuclear devices and use them either as a terrorist weapon or on the battlefield with the materials pilfered. With this in mind, it is imperative the rest of the world become organized against these entities, gathering intelligence more effectively and acting on that intelligence, through diplomatic means or otherwise. We must be proactive, not reactive. The future of the human species may depend on if we choose to ignore these facts or face them.
M.B.
Anchorage, AK


Dear FRONTLINE,
In case we in the West thought we had actually won the Cold War, 'Loose Nukes' gives us pause to think that the real battle has only begun. The overwhelming threat from stockpiled and insecure weapons grade material must be dealt with by all nations. Yes it will cost us money. Yes it may cost us an ally in Yeltsin if we must abandon him due to corrupt elements in his government who allow the black market to access plutonium and uranium. But the cost to us if we do not deal aggressively with this problem? I shudder to think of those poor people at 'Ground Zero'...
Michael Caffaro"


Dear FRONTLINE,
I was glued to the edge of my seat during your program. Your journalism was second to none. The fact that nuclear material can be so easily obtained from the former USSR should make all of us think about where our government needs to spend its foreign aid funds. If the Russians cannot guard such a deadly possession, then it is in our own best interest to assist them. Lest we find out the results from turning a blind eye.
B.J.
Forest, VA


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your coverage of Russia's leaking nuculear materials was fascinating, but it is not clear whether or not your presenters recognized how _typical_ the Russian officials' denials and evasions are of Russian behavior. This dates from long before the Communists, so we can count on this behavior persisting long after them as well. Sometimes the only way to cut through the evasions and wring the truth out of them is to call their bluff. So, for example, one of the first questions that comes to my mind after seeing the program is: if Baranov was told not to talk to protect someone on Yeltsin's team for the sake of the July elections, what further information can your investigators get from him now? Has the FSB questioned him since then? Is his case going to trial? Another Frontline episode on these issues, following up on these questions, would be television worth watching.
Matthew Johnson


Dear FRONTLINE,
Great investigation. I was really surprised at the amount of information collected by your team. This is a reality that the whole world should be aware of and Frontline did what even the US government refused to do, and that is to make people aware of this great threat. I am sure that US government officials know more about this situation and they should be cooperative when there is a need to keep people informed. The question would be "What is the US doing to prevent a terrorist nuclear threat or attack?". Congratulations and keep the excellent work guys!
A.Q.
Phoenix, AZ


Dear FRONTLINE,
Once again another outstanding program from PBS. I really thought this was a very informative program and this issue needs to be addressed now and in the future. I really like programs like this that bring out the dangers that nuclear materials can have a tremendous impact to the world and to the US. It brings awarness to the apathy to those who live in the US. How can I find out that the US Government is some how trying to do something to safely help the former Soviet Union please let me know. Make sure that you have a follow up program in the future!!!
D.C.S.
Kansas City, MO


Dear FRONTLINE,
An informative and disturbing view into the problem abroad but as alluded to by one of the Russians, I suspect that the problem is not unique to Eastern Europe. There are materials on the loose at home and in "friendly" countries too.

Could the silence on the part of CIA/FBI/DOE and the Vice President's office suggest that Boris Yeltsin was not the only President concerned about press coverage of this issue before re-election?

The probability of the "nightmare scenario" of terrorists conducting nuclear blackmail or exploding a device in the near future is greater than the average American realizes. Although the political rhetoric is that our "children no longer live under the threat of nuclear annihilation," the truth is that the threat from both military and non-military sources is as great as ever.

Thank you for an informative program.
Sincerely,
R.W.
Tallahassee, FL


Dear FRONTLINE,
I think that Jerry Krupnick of the Newark Star Ledger summed it up perfectly when he said "Be afraid..be very afraid."

I just wonder how much of this nuclear grade material was smuggled out of Russia before the Munich incident and if history is any indication, then I'm definitely afraid.
J.B.
Dallas, TX


Dear FRONTLINE,
Congratulations on your investigation of this serious problem. I hope you will have a follow-up story on why you couldn't get any straight answers out of our peace-loving, anti-nuclear US Government. One of the reasons is that, since the eighteenth century "Potempkin Village" the Russian Empire has become expert at duping naive, ignorant, people. The Sovietologists who couldn't predict the fall of the USSR are still taking up space in "Russian Studies" departments, "think tanks", etc.and are still advising the State Department and security agencies. They still think that Russia is some kind of viable real country. The Russians know that a stupid person will admit that they were wrong much sooner than a Phd. They know that they can con- tinue to make money on black marketeering nuclear materials and Clinton and Strobe Talbot won't lift a finger to stop them.
N.H.W.
Sonoma, CA


Dear FRONTLINE,
It was an excellent show, highlighting a very important issue. I am sure we can look forward to nuclear terrorism in our future.

There is one very important point which I think needs more attention. All weapons-grade fissile materials are MAN-MADE. They do not occur naturally. At the end of the show you interviewed a UN official who discussed the impossibility of containment and control of these substances, (even though we all agree we should try much harder to do so). But the fact that HEU and Plutonium are man-made, means that we can at the very least, stop making them. How many breeder reactors exist today? How many additional tons of weapons grade material are we still producing, even as we try and collect the surplus end product from all over the planet? As you pointed out, it is easy to transport HEU. It is much less easy to build and hide a breeder reactor. In fact, the technology for building and operating a breeder reactor is more sophisticated than that needed for building a bomb itself.

So I think it is very important to say that in addition to controlling all the already produced weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, we must stop making more of it.

Thank you for your show,
S.A.
Philadelphia, PA


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your Frontline program, Loose Nukes, only enhances my concern about worldwide nuclear proliferation and the United States' apparent apathy in dealing with these concerns. In my opinion, never have we been closer to a nuclear situation than today. Unfortunately we have a President who, in one of his debates, simply gave one line to this subject stating that no Russian nukes are pointed at the US. First, I don't believe it. And second, those responsible for delivering a warhead or lighting one up in the US will not be Russia.

My praise goes to Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who made this subject a keynote in his presidential primary campaign. It is the ultimate responsibility of the executive branch to keep this serious matter in the forefront of our nation's primary issues. Lets leave the economy, stupid, to our nation's peoples and the congress, and change the presidential focus to more serious foreign policy and defense issues such as this one.
G.M.
South Bend, IN


Dear FRONTLINE,
Great show. The loose nukes issue is at least as important as climate change. Yet while thousands of scientists are studying climate change issues, and dozens of companies are developing technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, only a relative handful of experts are working on the problem of nuclear proliferation.

Please follow up with a sequel to "Loose Nukes" -- maybe a show on what the US government is or isn't doing.
W.D.
Arlington, VA


Dear FRONTLINE,
As a retired US Army nuclear maintenance, storage and nuclear explosive ordinance disposal officer, I can relate professionally and personally to this real story. While I do not consider myself an expert, I have the day in and day out knowledge in this field that only experience can provide. I first saw PBS NOVA "The Petroleum Connections" in 1978 and have followed Nova and Frontline ever since. Good reporting. Hard hitting and timely. I was involved in the initial drafting of the first FBI, DOE, DOD agent combined effort on how to handle a coordinated approach to improved nuclear defense (nuclear terrorism.) I was a charter member of NEST and helped test the US Governments capabilities to handle these kinds of problems. Much progress was made from 1977 to the present, but the Russian problem now makes nuclear terrorism a real threat. It's no longer a matter of "maybe", rather "when?" As a private citizen with far too much knowledge of the real world, I can only say thanks for your continuing efforts on keeping this real issue on the FRONT page. Keeping this problem on the minds of Congress during budget reductions is extremely important. If we do not, another Pearl Harbor is going to happen. The problem can only get worse.
Sincerely,
John B. Starr, Jr.
Major, USA Retired, PS.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I saw your report on Loose Nukes last night. Once again, you have done a superb job in reporting. I have been an avid watcher of FRONTLINE for a number of years and hope to be well into the future.

However, watching your report I was not surprised with the actions and results from Moscow. It amazes me that Russia still functions as a country with all the crime and violence that goes on. Basically, lawlessness has taken over the country. It almost seems that there are two Russia's, the People's Russia and the Government of Russia

I'm also amazed at it's handling of nuclear materials and that the U.S. and the U.N. allows this to happen. This problem will only get worse due to the collapse of communism. I guess we are the only ones who care. Many other countries don't seem to mind this thing going on. That guy only got 18 months jail time. I think there should be an international death penalty for these crimes. After all, they don't seem to care if millions of lives are lost for a small profit; then why should we care about their life. I know that sounds harsh, but we as a super power and global watchdog need to do more. Don't ask me what that is but we will someday.
S. Whitten
Orlando, FL


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