This Truck Contains Nukes

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Ever wondered how atom bombs and fissile material crisscross the United States? They do so in blue trucks called Safeguards Transporters.

As revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request, finished nukes, their parts and fissile material like plutonium and highly enriched uranium are transported in these unmarked 18-wheelers operated by the Department of Energy. If you untangle the bureaucratese, the trucks appear to have locks on them:

[The Safeguards Transporter is a] specially designed part of an 18-wheel rig that incorporates various deterrents to prevent unauthorized removal of cargo.


Should you run for your life if you see the truck pictured jackknife? If you believe the government, you’re perfectly okay:

The thermal characteristics of the [transporter] would allow the trailer to be totally engulfed in a fire without incurring damage to the cargo. The tractors are standard production units that have been modified to provide the federal agents protection against attack. Escort vehicles accompany the tractor-trailers during transportation activities.


You may be alarmed at what is perhaps a brusque and condescending tone from the DoE when it comes to such serious matters, but as evidenced by the lack of a nuclear attack on a civilian population since World World II, nukes are very, very hard to get. Even in parts of the world not known for running their trains on time.


For those interested in just how hard, I’d highly recommend William Langewiesche’s excellent series of articles (1,2,3) on the Third World’s nuclear ambitions, written during his last years at The Atlantic. They are also available as the book The Atomic Bazaar. In this video, he talks about how to get a nuclear bomb in Russia.


Source: Friends of the Earth