From today's New York Times by Alan J. Kuperman, : (note: after Aug. 12th, this link will be invalid. On Aug. 12th, you'll need to set up an account at the Times website (free) to view this article in it's entirety)
Despite widespread opposition - from the Bush administration, a majority of the Senate, leaders of the House Energy Committee, and nuclear regulators from the five preceding presidential administrations - Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and chairman of the Energy Committee, included an amendment that guts restrictions on the export of highly enriched uranium, the same material used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb.You'll note, however, that our esteemed President SIGNED THE FUCKING BILL! Despite his own staff's opposition to this very key national security provision in it. Despite the fact that the House Energy Committee, in a rare show of bipartisan unity, asked Sen. Domenici to withdraw this provision.
If terrorists obtained enough such uranium they could fashion a full-fledged nuclear weapon, not merely a "dirty bomb" that would scatter radioactive waste. As the late Manhattan Project physicist Luis Alvarez noted in his memoirs: "With modern weapons-grade uranium, the background neutron rate is so low that terrorists, if they had such material, would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half. . . . Even a high school kid could make a bomb in short order."
The new law increases the likelihood of that nightmare scenario by allowing exports of bomb-grade uranium to foreign companies to rise to more than 100 pounds annually, thereby multiplying the odds that terrorists could steal enough for a bomb while the uranium is in transit to, or in storage at, foreign facilities.
Despite the fact that the amendment was voted down on a straight up or down vote in June of this year! I'll let Kuperman explain what happened next:
This is where Mr. Domenici abused his power as Senate committee chair. He successfully pushed all of the Republicans he appointed to the House-Senate conference on the bill to vote for his provision - against the expressed will of the Senate. He then rejected the House's offer to eliminate the provision, thereby strong-arming the provision into law over the bipartisan opposition of executive and legislative branch officials.Also sprach Zarathustra...turns out Sen. Domenici rammed this through, not for an American company (in fact, a company in his own state, TCI Medical was attempting to start producing isotopes domestically using safer low-enriched uranium, but for a consortium of companies in the Netherlands, Canada, and Belgium, which couldn't be bothered ramping up isotope production using the safer uranium that our export contracts call for, opting instead to maintain their equipment to use weapons-grade uranium.
Nice going, shithead...