In a top-secret mission over the Christmas holidays, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration helped the Ukraine get more than 100 pounds of previously unsecured, weapons-grade uranium out of the country. Rachel Maddow broke the news of the mission last night on the show, in an interview with a man she called the "undersecretary for saving the world."
The material removed to Russia would have been enough to build two atom bombs, and it apparently wouldn't have been that hard. "It doesn't require a lot of technology or know-how to make a nuclear bomb," Thomas D'Agostino, head of the NNSA told us. "Unfortunately the word is out there, from an information standpoint. So the key in the nuclear security business is material. It's all about material. It's just like in real estate. It's location, location, location."
Securing loose nuclear material has been a major policy goal of the Obama administration. D'Agostino says his team has completed its work in 19 countries, with 16 more to go. "We're over halfway," he said. "We still have a lot more work to do. And with the support, the increased budgets that we have in this area that the president is proposing, specifically to lock this stuff down, we think we're going to get this job done. That's our plan."