MoD shows terrorists how to
make an A-bomb
By Michael Smith,
THE Ministry of Defence has placed a step-by-step
guide on how to build an atomic bomb in the Public Record Office for
anybody to see.
It has also released a file describing various ways
in which such a bomb could be smuggled into the country.
There are complete cross-sections, precise
measurements and full details of the materials used for all the
components of the first British bomb, including the two key parts:
the plutonium core and the initiator that sets off the chain
reaction causing the blast.
The plans, seen by The Telegraph and available to
anybody of any nationality, are contained in files released over the
past five years.
They would enable a terrorist to make an atomic bomb
without difficulty, according to an engineer who worked on the
British atomic weapons programme.
Brian Burnell said he was not normally an advocate of
greater secrecy, but added: "These documents should never have been
declassified and since the events of September 11 there is a case
for removing them from public access."
The Conservatives demanded an immediate Government
explanation. Bernard Jenkin, the shadow defence secretary, said the
files were "a monstrous free gift to terrorists".
He accused the Government of a "horrific dereliction
of duty" to keep the nuclear weapons programme secret.
The files relate to the construction of Blue Danube,
the first British atomic bomb, which was built in the late 1940s and
early 1950s after the Americans cut off co-operation on atomic
weapons because of fears over British security.
Mr Burnell, who is retired, said he went to the
Public Record Office as part of a local history project because he
wanted to know more about the Blue Danube project than any single
engineer had been told at the time.
"It was like the production line for a car," he said.
"Each person worked on one aspect, so I had a lot of unanswered
questions. Asking them at the time would have been a bad career
Mr Burnell was astonished by the amount of
information he found, much of it in a single file.
He said: "I am confident that if I were prepared to
accept some risk - and we know since September 11 that such people
exist - then I would be able to produce the necessary
All the terrorist would need was a fairly basic
"No one is suggesting that the bomb would need to be
as efficient as the original," Mr Burnell said. "In fact, for
terrorist purposes, the dirtier the bomb was the better."
The biggest difficulty would be obtaining
weapons-grade plutonium. But several rogue states, including Iraq,
have access to such material, and Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda
terrorist network in particular is known to have tried to obtain
The ministry refused to comment last night.