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Profile: Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST)
Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) was a participant or observer in the following events:
The Department of Energy’s nuclear bomb squad, known as the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST), is in Europe for an exercise called Jackal Cave. [Richelson, 2009, pp. 178; National Security Archive, 1/23/2009] The unit was created in 1975 following a extortionist’s threat to detonate a nuclear device in Boston if not paid a ransom. Since then, the group has been responsible for evaluating nuclear threats and, if the threat is judged credible, by searching for and disabling a nuclear device. [Time, 1/8/1996] This is the NEST’s first foreign deployment since 1998. Jackal Cave is a large exercise involving 500 personnel and 62 aircraft. The CIA and a special operations force are also involved in locating a mock nuclear device, which NEST would then disable. [National Security Archive, 1/23/2009] The exercise is canceled after the 9/11 attacks and the search team repatriated in the following days (see also October 11, 2001). [Swindon Advertiser, 8/30/2001; BBC News, 9/13/2001] All Department of Energy participants and equimpment are returned to the US within five days of the attacks. [Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, 2003 ]
According to Graham Allison, a Harvard professor and expert on national security issues, the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST), the agency that investigates nuclear threats (see September 5-15, 2001), is sent to New York City following an intelligence report that al-Qaeda may have smuggled a nuclear device into that city. The CIA has received a report from a source code-named Dragonfire that the terrorist organization has obtained a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon from the former Soviet Union. During the search for the weapon, Vice President Dick Cheney and several hundred federal employees are relocated to a secure underground bunker. No weapon is found. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/2004; Blueprint Magazine, 10/7/2004]
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