US bomb scientist says enough plutonium for 25 bombs is missing

Publish date: January 29, 2009

Soviet-era plutonium that was never accounted for after the Cold War could fuel roughly 25 nuclear weapons as powerful as the "Fat Man" atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in World War II, former Air Force Secretary Thomas Reed said Monday, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

"In the case of plutonium, how much plutonium did they produce? Well, they produced between 140 and 162 tons. If they can’t find a tenth of 1 percent, that means there is 310 to 360 pounds of plutonium lying around somewhere," Reed, co-author of the new book The Nuclear Express: a Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation, told the paper.

The United States and Russia are "hard at work looking for" the material, said Reed, a former nuclear-weapon designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.