WTF? Wikileaks Task Force?


The WikiLeaks Task Force will \”examine whether the latest release of WikiLeaks documents might affect the agency\’s foreign relationships or operations,\” CIA spokesman George Little said.

I have a feeling that a rather large number of the CIA\’s more junior peeps, the ones who actually do things and know what\’s going on, are having a good old giggle at the way no one has pointed out to the older bods who actually run the CIA what that acronym actually means on t\’internet.

That\’s the way I would read it at least: my minimal contacts with their peeps over the years (the sort of contacts that anyone getting a nuclear metals import/export licence for Russia is going to have, don\’t let this be the start of some rumour that I\’m an agent or something) convince me that they\’re not all ignorant.

4 thoughts on “WTF? Wikileaks Task Force?”

  1. nuclear metals import / export ???? WTF ?

    Tim adds: Sure, didn’t you know? My day job is dealing with weird and exotic metals. Some of which are dual use….both nuclear and non nuclear uses. So, to keep these metals out of the hands of nasty peeps who might use them for nuclear purposes you have to get a licence to move them around. Tell everyone where you’re shipping them, what they’re going to be used for, why they’re going to be used and so on. If you don’t get such a licence and you ship, say, hafnium with a low zirconium content (or indeed, zirconium with a low hafnium content….both are used in the construction of nuclear reactors and are thus “nuclear metals” while themselves not being radioactive) then you can go to jail for 20 years. And if you do get a licence and have either lied, or your customer has lied to you, and they end up in the hands of the naughty lads, you go to jail for up to 20 years. This actually happened to some poor schlep in a large US company. They’d shipped pressed tablets of zirconium powder (this is what sets off your airbag in your car) off to someone and not really checked. After Gulf War 1 their tablets of Zr were found to be the secondary initiators for some cluster bombs (this is a possible other use for those pressed tablets of zirconium) and so off to jail that shipping/licensing exec went. Served three years if I recall correctly.

    For example, we took some hafnium oxide from the US, sent it to Russia to be turned into hafnium carbide. This then went back to the US to be used as the inside lining of the engines on hypersonic cruise missiles (those Mach 5 etc scram jets). Licences all around.

    There was in fact a lovely honeytrap operation going for years in Cyprus. Some zirconium niobium tubing (used to make fuel rods for nuclear plants) had been smuggled out of Russia. I tried to buy this stuff for years because I had a customer who wanted to cut it up as scrap and put it into MAG alloy wheels for cars (this alloy uses about 1% Zr). I’d shipped other such bits and pieces of this alloy to him before from Russia. It was ages and ages before I found out why they would never sell this stuff to me at the scrap price (about $6 a kg then). Men working for organisations with three letters/numbers in the title of the organisation were monitoring those who tried to buy the stuff. If they offered the price as tubes for nuclear plants ($150 a kg) then they were monitored and often jailed. Those who wanted to buy it for scrap were ignored.

    It’s a fun life at the weirder end of the metals markets…….we even had a uranium export licence at one time. Then there was the little visit we had from such nice men telling us that this particular scientific institute in India was not to be shipped to….everyone was quite certain that we didn’t want to be shipping to India’s ballistic missile program, weren’t we?

  2. ‘pressed tablets of zirconium powder (this is what sets off your airbag in your car) ‘ (?)

    I thought sodium azide is what inflates the airbag.

    It certainly has been sintered Zr power. Becauser we worked for ages with a Russian plant to make exactly that or that purpose

    Hasving looked it up, the azide is the expanding gas. The Zr is the initiator….for Zr powder has a tendency to go bang when it’s hit (umm, think that’s called bieng friable?)

  3. Zirconium is a lovely incendiary as well. It’s the ‘I’ part in SAPHEI (semi armour-piercing/high-explosive incendiary) anti-materiel/anti-personnel rounds like the Raufoss Mk 211 .50BMG round.

    Good catalyst, too. That was one of the problem when Chernobyl went bang: the rods got hot enough to crack cooling water on the zirconium cladding into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen started burning the graphite moderator in the core and then the hydrogen went bang and blew the lid off the reactor vessel. Much shenanigans then ensued.

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