Ces nouveaux matériels nucléaires susceptibles de tomber entre de mauvaises mains

LOS ANGELES - Le danger inhérent à la détention d'installations nucléaires est incontestable. Mais ce danger est beaucoup plus critique dans une zone de combat, où les équipements et les armes nucléaires peuvent être volés et où les réacteurs peuvent être la cible de bombardements. Ces risques, très aigus de nos jours dans un Moyen-Orient en proie au chaos, soulèvent des questions troublantes quant à la sécurité des installations nucléaires dans d'autres pays instables.

Deux événements récents nous en montrent les enjeux. Le 9 juillet, le groupe militant connu sous le nom d'État islamique s'est emparé de 40 kg (88 livres) de composés d'uranium à l'Université de Mossoul, en Irak. L'uranium dérobé n'était pas destiné à la fabrication d'armes nucléaires. Les inspecteurs internationaux ont retiré tous les équipements sensibles d'Irak après la Guerre du Golfe de 1991 (ce qui en explique l'absence quand les États-Unis ont envahi l'Irak en 2003). Mais quelle aurait été la réponse de la communauté internationale si cet uranium avait été hautement enrichi ?

Le même jour, le Hamas a lancé trois puissantes roquettes de fabrication iranienne depuis la bande de Gaza sur le réacteur de la centrale de Dimona en Israël. Par bonheur, deux roquettes ont manqué leur cible et Israël a réussi à intercepter la troisième. Mais cet épisode a représenté une grave escalade des hostilités et a servi de rappel important quant à la vulnérabilité des réacteurs nucléaires en zone de guerre.

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