Report warns Congress that tankers could be used for nuclear attacks
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released a report for Congress that says oil tankers could be potentially used by terrorists in a nuclear attack on a U.S. port.
'While much attention has been focused on threats to maritime security posed by cargo container ships, terrorists could also attempt to use oil tankers to stage an attack,' noted the report, which was written by Jonathan Medalia, a CRS specialist in national defense. 'If they were able to place an atomic bomb in a tanker and detonate it in a U.S. port, they would cause massive destruction and might halt crude oil shipments worldwide for some time. Detecting a bomb in a tanker would be difficult. Congress may consider various options to address this threat,' the report added.
The report noted that crude oil from the Middle East is typically shipped to the U.S. in supertankers, which are divided into multiple storage tanks. 'The simplest type of atomic bomb, and by far the easiest to fabricate, is a gun-assembly bomb, similar to the Hiroshima bomb. Excluding the bomb's outer casing, fins and fuses, this device was six feet long, about six inches in diameter, and weighed about 1,000 pounds,' the report said.
The CRS study went on to cite the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) and the Panama Canal as specific potential targets.
The Congressional Research Service proposed that a Tanker Security Initiative (TSI), similar to the Container Security Initiative (CSI), be formed to improve tanker security