Nuclear alert as FG warns of British ‘dirty bomb’ threat

IRELAND was put on nuclear alert by Fine Gael last night as the party warned of the threat of a terrorist “dirty bomb” plot in Britain.

FG foreign affairs spokesman Billy Timmins demanded Dublin put pressure on Britain to ensure its burgeoning plutonium stocks were not a soft target for al-Qaida inspired groups.

The Wicklow TD raised the alarm as a new report showed Britain has enough weapons grade plutonium for 17,000 nuclear bombs after doubling stockpiles in the past decade.

A Royal Society study showing Britain has built up a stockpile of 100 tonnes of plutonium nuclear fuel, was “incredibly worrying”, Mr Timmins said.

The shadow minister urged EU intervention as the consequences of a nuclear explosion on British soil “is almost beyond comprehension”.

“It is alarming that when the risks from terrorist threats have never been more dire, our closest neighbour is hoarding so much of this lethal substance,” he said.

“The 100 tonnes of plutonium stockpiled in Britain mainly comes from spent uranium fuel in their nuclear power plants and is enough to create 17,000 nuclear bombs. However, the main danger lies in the possibility of just a miniscule amount of this substance being acquired by a terrorist group for use in a crude nuclear device or ‘dirty bomb’.

“In that catastrophic event, the danger to Ireland would be incalculable but I have been less than reassured with statements from the British government that the stocks are fully protected.

“Of course, I am not asking the British authorities to reveal sensitive defence information but a more complete reassurance is needed,” he said.

“I will be raising the issue with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and asking them to intervene with their British counterparts as well as urging intervention at an EU level. Tragically, we are all aware of the catastrophe that follows a large scale terrorist attack and the potential devastation from a nuclear attack on British soil is almost beyond comprehension,” Mr Timmins said.

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