Conflict & Justice

Inventory shows missing nuclear components

(The Air Force has reported two major incidents now, what have you learned now?) The latest info is from an admiral who was appointed by Secretary Gates to investigate the shipping of missiles to Taiwan. He found that the Air Force was unable to account for possibly thousands of sensitive nuclear components. This means that the materials could've been destroyed a long time ago, but they don't have the paperwork to confirm or deny any scenario. It raises issues about accountability. (What might these components actually be?) I don't have a detailed sense but the same kinds of nose cones that were shipped to Taiwan probably. They're sensitive components. (This doesn't bode well for Gates's rhetoric of building positive control in the Pentagon.) No, it doesn't at all. This is why Gates fired both the Chief of Staff and Secretary of Air Force. (What does an erosion of military standards mean?) It means officials are not paying close enough attention to the safeguards for nuclear materials to go missing. (A senior Defense official has said there's no suggestion that the missing parts ended up in the hands of the countries that shouldn't have them.) It is an odd defense, but ultimately there is no proof one way or another. (How far could the repercussions of this go?) I think they're still not completely felt and I think a number of other senior Air Force officials could lose their jobs. (What accounts for the deterioration of what was once such a prestigious part of the Air Force?) It's difficult to say but some would speculate that this was a less important job after the Cold War.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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