Go Elf Yourself | Main | James Baker, "Realist"
December 08, 2006

Debunking the "Smuggled Nuke Trigger" Theory

Gotta Know suggests I read AJ Strata for the theory that Litvinenko and his various confederates were involved in smuggling Polonium to make a trigger for a Russian suitcase nuke. I've mentioned that, and linked the Canada Free Press article about it, but I don't buy it.

Here's Strata:

I believe Kovtun and Litvinenko are the two prime vectors who were present at the incident in the Hotel room at the Millenium Hotel which appears to be a large, accidental contamination. They in turn trailed Polonium and infected secondary people like Scaramella and possibly Lugovoi. As time passed from the initial incident (which had to happen prior to the meeting with Scaramella) then potency of the trail detoriated.

Gotta Know says that's a "better fit" to the facts than the poisoning theory. I strongly disagree.

Apart from the fact that I just don't believe it in my gut, here's a more analytical objection.

Polonium is an alpha-emitter. Alpha particles can be blocked by paper, clothing, even just a person's skin. That's why such a toxin is usually only dangerous when ingested.

Now, if you're smuggling this, you will have it safely stored inside a case that does not permit the emission of alpha particles to the outside word. Lead lined. Hell, even a wooden box should do the trick.

How many times would the box have to be opened -- exposing the environment to radiation -- in the smuggled-trigger theory?

Either once or twice, tops, in London. The man who was ultimately going to have to make the trigger would obviously need to open the box. And, maybe, a courier would have to open it, to test it, and make sure he's actually getting Polonium rather than some fakey "radioactive material."

Why, then, are there so many traces throughout London? Litvinenko, if he accidentally poisoned himself, may have transferred some of it to some locations, of course.

But why are there traces of it in Lugovoy's hotel rooms? Why did he keep on opening the box, exposing the rooms to radiation? Why would he do such a thing, if he were just a courier trying to deliver a package?

EC notes that you can only transfer traces by direct contact, not simply by opening the box. So this theory has Lugovoy frequently handling the toxic material... to what end? Did he think it was Silly Putty?

It makes sense that he'd have traces of the material in his hotel room he had to handle the stuff, say, to put it into an eyedropper to poison a drink, or to poison a pack of cigarettes that could later be swapped for Litvinenko's own.

But why would he open it unless he had such a reason to open it?

And why on earth are the highest levels of radiation -- and an entire staff at the bar -- found in the Milennium hotel bar? Is this the sort of place one opens up a case of radioactive material for testing? Wouldn't someone do that in a less public place?

If this were a transfer of Polonium to people intending to make a trigger out of it, wouldn't they have met and opened the box (if at all) in a house or hotel room?

What kind of spycraft is it to open the thing in a hotel bar? Were they also planning on building the trigger right there over salsa chips and Mojitos?

Not buying it. The greatest level of exposure just happens to be at a place where people drink, eat, and smoke -- i.e., a perfect place for intentional poisoning -- and where there are a lot of other people around -- i.e., a very bad place to go opening up boxes containing nuclear material.

Unless someone can postulate a good reason this exchange -- with the box open, radioactive material spilling all over the joint -- went down in such an uncontrolled public venue, I just can't see the sense of the nuclear smuggling theory.

PS: If Litvinenko knew he's suffered a "Whoopsie!" in handling the nuclear material at a bar, why didn't he tip his doctors off to that, when they might, possibly, have saved him? Why did he wait, and wait, and wait, and wait until they finally, improbably, hit upon the mystery toxin, just as he was on the edge of death?

digg this
posted by Ace at 11:56 AM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
redridinghood: "Pelosi is pathetic ..."

Warai-otoko : "Dick Cheney is a war criminal, and his daughter is ..."

Crusader: "To #350: Neither part took 9/11 seriously for mor ..."

Seems Legit: "I know it sounds weak to admit being weary over ev ..."

Truck Monkey Report: "Liz's lady penis is turgid. ..."

Yudhishthira's Dice: " Liz Cheney is a dishwater dull nonentity whose b ..."

Common Tater: "It saddens me a little, to hope so strongly that t ..."

mikethemoose: ">>>Why does Cheney have obsessive hatred for Trump ..."

banana Dream: ">> Blue laws do not prohibit consumption of alcoho ..."

Working for Peanuts: "[i]The abandonment of blue laws was a goal of the ..."

rd: "[i]If I want to buy a bottle of Aberlour 15 on Sun ..."

Dworkin Barimen - anarcho-tyranny? you're soaking in it!: ">In other news, a moron mentioned this morning tha ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64