United States Action

Yahoo Group

Nuclear Terrorism Page

Back to US Action Home Page
Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADMs) or Nuclear Suitcase Bombs

Impact of "Low Yield" Nuclear Weapons

Notes on Tactical Nuclear Weapons by Sean Osborne (Steve Quayle News Alert)

Does Osama Bin Laden have Nuclear Suitcase Bombs?

That's the main concern of anti-terrorist researchers.  What do we know?  According to author Paul L. Williams in his recent book Osama's Revenge - the Next 9/11, "In 1996, David Z. and his Mafia associates in Chechyna allegedly purchased a  shipment of Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADMs), or "nuclear suitcases" from former KGB officials...For the weapons, bin Laden paid $30 million in cash and two tons of heroin that had been refined in his laboratories in Afghanistan." (street value of $700 million).  According to Williiams, Russian defector Col. Stanislav Lunev told a US "congressional committee in January 2000 that nuclear suitcases had indeed been buried in the United States, although he could not pinpoint the exact locations."  (See CNN article link below).  

Per Williams book Osama's Revenge - the Next 9/11, "Soviet scientists produced more than seven hundred nuclear suitcases during the 1960s and the 1970s and hundreds more during the 1980s.  The first SADMs were very expensive to maintain and too heavy for practical use.  They had to be carried in crates that measured 4 feet by 2.5 feet with a weight that exceeded eight hundred pounds.  During the 1970s, the weapons were streamlined so that they could be transported in cases measuring 2 feet by 1.5 feet with a weight of 320 pounds.  These modified nukes consisted of three coffee-can-sized aluminum canisters that had to be connected by a crew of five - a commander, a radio officer, and three army technicians - before detonation.  Each weapon could produce an explosive yield of at least one kiloton - enough to topple not only the Twin Towers, but also much of lower Manhattan."   (Paul L. Williams, Osama's Revenge - the Next 9/11, Chapter 2).

Per Williams book Osama's Revenge - the Next 9/11, "During the 1980s, Soviet and US nuclear technicians repectively made refinements until the weapons came to measure 24 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches with a weight of less than sixty pounds.  A single agent could now transport the device from place to place in a suitcase to cause a significant "event".  Each small "suitcase" contained at least a kiloton of fissionable plutonium and uranium.  The plutonium and uranium were kept in separate compartments and connected to a triggering mechanism that could be activated by a clock or a call from a cell phone."   (Paul L. Williams, Osama's Revenge - the Next 9/11, Chapter 2)

The book discusses further how they believe Bin Laden obtained nuclear suitcase bombs and the level of expertise that his organization has in using them.


Book on Subject:

The plot outlined in this lurid exposé is a frightening one: Osama bin Laden has nuclear weapons—lots of them—and is preparing to use them to create "an American Hiroshima." Williams, a journalist, former FBI consultant and author of The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder and the Mafia, contends that bin Laden has purchased of dozens low-yield Russian "suitcase" atomic bombs and gotten his hands on enough weapons-grade uranium to build Hiroshima-sized 10-kiloton devices, and that one nuclear device may already have been smuggled into America. Contrary to the subtitle, Williams relies heavily on media reports to flesh out the arch-terrorist’s nuclear intrigues, detailing bin Laden’s lucrative heroin trafficking operations, his ties to the Chechen mafia and to Pakistani nuclear scientists, and his network of thousands of sleeper agents in the United States. He criticizes the Clinton and Bush administrations for inept attempts to apprehend bin Laden, but offers little advice on what to do. As if to heighten readers’ anxiety, he reprints several al-Qaeda manifestoes calling down destruction on America and includes a lengthy treatise on the devastation an atom bomb would wreak on lower Manhattan. He doesn’t tie up all the loose ends in this hasty treatment; on the question of why, if it has nukes, al-Qaeda hasn’t yet used them, he can only assume that bin Laden is patiently awaiting the perfect moment for a multiple-target strike. But after 9/11, alarmist scenarios have to be taken seriously, and the disquieting evidence he has amassed provides a useful reminder of the gravest threat in the war on terror.



Public News Articles on Subject:

Time Magazine: October 29, 2001: "Can a Nuke Really Fit into a Suitcase?"

CNN: January 28, 2000: "Former Soviet spy: Small nuclear devices planted in U.S."

ABC News, Brian Ross: "Portable Terror: Suitcase Nukes Raise Concerns", November 9, 2001

Newsmax: FBI Director Admits Russians May Have Secret Weapons in US,  November 8, 1999



Background on Suitcase Nukes

A "suitcase" bomb is a very compact and portable nuclear weapon and could have the dimensions of 60 x 40 x 20 centimeters or 24 x 16 x 8 inches. The smallest possible bomb-like object would be a single critical mass of plutonium (or U-233) at maximum density under normal conditions. The Pu-239 weighs 10.5 kg and is 10.1 cm across. It doesn't take much more than a single critical mass to cause significant explosions ranging from 10-20 tons. These types of weapons can also be as big as two footlockers. The warhead consists of a tube with two pieces of uranium, which, when rammed together, would cause a blast. Some sort of firing unit and a device that would need to be decoded to cause detonation may be included in the "suitcase."

Another portable weapon is a "backpack" bomb. The Soviet nuclear backpack system was made in the 1960s for use against NATO targets in time of war and consists of three "coffee can-sized" aluminum canisters in a bag. All three must be connected to make a single unit in order to explode. The detonator is about 6 inches long. It has a 3-to-5 kiloton yield, depending on the efficiency of the explosion. It's kept powered during storage by a battery line connected to the canisters.


External radiation — occurs when either part of or all of the body is exposed from an external source, such as when a person is standing near the site of where a radiological device is set off and he or she is exposed to radiation, which can be absorbed by the body or can pass completely through it.

Contamination — occurs when radioactive materials in the form of solids, liquids or gases are released into the air and contaminate people externally, internally or both. This happens when body parts such as the skin become contaminated and/or if the harmful material gets inside the body via the lungs, gut or wounds.

Incorporation of radioactive material — occurs when body cells, tissues and organs such as bone, liver, thyroid or kidney, are contaminated.


Gamma radiation can travel many meters in the air and many centimeters once in human tissue; therefore they represent a major external threat. Dense material is needed as a shield. Beta radiation can travel meters in air and can moderately penetrate human skin, but clothing and some protection can help. Alpha radiation travels a very short distance through the air and can't penetrate the skin, but can be harmful if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through open wounds.

Radiation in the first hour after an explosion is about 90 percent, with it going down to about 1 percent of the original level after two days. Radiation only drops to trace levels after 300 hours.


People in the immediate vicinity would likely die from the force of the conventional explosion itself. Some survivors of the blast might die of radiation poisoning in the weeks afterward. Those farther away from the explosion might suffer radiation sickness in the days and weeks afterward, but recover. Over time, risks of cancer in the affected area would rise, but perhaps only slightly.

A mix of physical symptoms must be used to judge the seriousness of exposure. Impact of radiation poisoning also changes if the body has experienced burns or physical trauma. In the case of treatable victims, extensive medical treatment may be needed for more than two months after exposure.

Some symptoms may include vomiting, headache, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea, thermal burn-like skin effects, secondary infections, reoccurring bleeding and hair loss.


If detection and decontamination occurs soon after exposure, about 95 percent of external radioactive material can be removed by taking off the victim's clothing and shoes and washing with water. Further decontamination may require the use of bleaches or other mild abrasives.

Treatment of a victim within the first six weeks to two months after exposure is vital and is determined by what types of radioactive isotopes to which the victim was exposed.

Medical personnel will treat victims for hemorrhage and shock. Open wounds are usually irrigated to cleanse them of any radioactive traces. Amputation of limbs may occur if a wound is highly contaminated and functional recovery isn't likely.

If radioactive material is ingested, treatment is given to reduce absorption and enhance excretion and elimination. It includes stomach pumping or giving the victim laxatives or aluminum antacids, among other things.

If radioactive material has gotten into a victim's internal organs and tissues, treatment includes giving the patient various blocking and diluting agents, such as potassium iodide, to decrease absorption. Mobilizing agents such as ammonium chloride, diuretics, expectorants and inhalants are given to a patient to force the tissues to release the harmful isotopes. Other treatments involve chelating agents. When ingested, these agents bind with some metals more strongly than others to form a stable complex that, when soluble, are more easily excreted through the kidneys.

AlertsUSA Terror Alert / Incident Notification Service