As if the U.S. isn’t facing enough threats from its southern borders, Americans can be concerned with yet another: terrorism in the form of nuclear weapons.
The potential for smuggling in nuclear or radioactive weapons of mass destruction has been suggested for a long time, and now the Lone Star state is taking the threat more seriously.
Texas game wardens don’t just cover land issues such as poaching, wildlife management or even illegal chemical dumping. They’re also on the water, monitoring for fishing violations – and now, terrorism.
“One fear is that terrorists could try to smuggle radioactive material into the country by boat,” notes Houston Public Media. “The Port of Houston has for years had radiation detectors to scan cargo. So now, besides guns and handcuffs, game wardens will have one more tool.”
That tool is a device the size of a cell phone which detects radiological or nuclear emissions. It can be worn on a belt and can help a warden determine if something suspicious is radioactive.
Houston Public Media reports game wardens began training with the radiation detectors in January and completed a mock exercise to find radioactive packages along the coast.
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Nuclear threats from terrorists have been causing greater concern since the Paris and Brussels attacks. President Obama, among other world leaders, faces the chilling prospect of rogue Islamic State terrorists unleashing a nuclear attack on a major Western city.
“Despite three previous summits and six years of Obama’s prodding, security officials warn that the ingredients for a nuclear device or a ‘dirty bomb’ are alarmingly insecure,” reports the Denver Post.
Nuclear threats from nations such as North Korea are now being joined by nuclear threats by non-state terrorists groups such as ISIS or al-Qaida offshoots, particularly those operating in North Africa, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
A so-called “dirty bomb” unleashed on a major urban center such as New York or Los Angeles could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Terrorists have also been eyeing nuclear power plants as a means of contaminating wide areas with radioactive waste.
The Denver Post reports the ingredients for a nuclear device or a “dirty bomb” are alarmingly insecure, according to security officials.
“We know that terrorist organizations have the desire to get access to these raw materials and to have a nuclear device,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
The lack of security at the southern border is nothing new. Nor is government denial of the threats. In 2014, Congressman Jason Chaffetz reported four known terrorists were apprehended at the border in Texas. When Chaffetz questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on whether he was “aware of any apprehensions of suspected or known terrorists,” Johnson dodged the question.
In the past, theft of radioactive materials from Mexican labs has been reported, fueling fears that terrorists are concentrating their efforts to funnel nuclear materials over the southern border.