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Smuggling of plutonium poses major health threat

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6978.485 (Published 25 February 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:485

The smuggling of plutonium is a major threat to health, according to Commander Jasjit Singh, director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, India.

Commander Singh told a meeting at the House of Commons organised by Medical Action for Global Security that plutonium and other fissile materials might be used by states such as Iraq or terrorist organisations to make a bomb. But he warned that damage to health could also result from smugglers mishandling radioactive material.

Dr Frank Barnaby, a nuclear physicist and defence analyst, said: “There are currently about 400 tonnes of separated plutonium available in the world, and it takes up to 10 kg of the metal or 35 kg of …

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