Object 44

Muon Detector

2034, Asunción, Paraguay

Babylon-translated remarks from President Aguirre on November 3rd, 2034 in Asunción, Paraguay:

Two years ago, our country suffered its worst attack in living memory when a terrorist group detonated a nuclear bomb here in Asunción. In an instant, 20,000 people were killed.

In the agonising months that came after, tens of thousands more died from exposure and from radiation poisoning. It is only thanks to the courageous work of every member of the emergency services, the army, the police, and the countless citizens who helped in those desperate times, that the dreadful toll wasn't any higher.

Since that day two years ago, we have hunted down those responsible and brought them to justice. Just as importantly, we have begun the process of rebuilding this beautiful city and country, and remembering all of those who fell. Part of that process is ensuring that such an atrocity can never happen again on our soil.

I have already described the steps this government is taking to upgrade our security services' capabilities and to increase the speed and effectiveness of our military response. Make no mistake, today we are far readier to detect and destroy those that threaten us than we were two years ago.

But this is not enough. Even the best intelligence networks cannot be perfect. We have learned from bitter experience that our enemies can move more swiftly than we could have imagined. A single layer of defence is too easily breached, and even a double layer may fall. No, we must have defence in depth, a system that cannot be fooled or evaded.

That is why, today, I am announcing the construction of the National Defence Initiative, a series of physical and digital barriers that will detect and prevent the passage of any unauthorised nuclear materials across our borders and within our country.

You may be wondering how this is possible. Backpack bombs, lead shielding, and car or copter transports all make it easy for terrorists to destroy lives. The answer is simple: every vehicle, plane, helicopter, car, truck, dirigible, ship, and container entering this country whether through road, air, or water will pass through a new type of detector — muon detectors — that will uncover nuclear material.

Every minute, thousands of muon particles rain down naturally from the sky and pass harmlessly through matter just as fish swim through water. But when they meet with extremely dense material like the uranium and plutonium in a nuclear bomb, those muons are deflected. It is by measuring those deflections that we can discover the presence of nuclear bombs, even if they are surrounded by a metre of solid lead. The technique is completely foolproof.

For the past six months we have been experimenting with this technology at ports and border entries across Paraguay, including Villeta and Encarnación. I have now decided to take the next step to roll this technology out across the country.

The vast majority of people and companies will barely even notice the detection process. Vehicles move through a short tunnel for just one minute, passing over a strip of muon detectors in the ground. Once they have exited, they will be tagged as being 'clean'. In the unlikely case that we find something, the tunnel will be instantly sealed and security forces called. This would finally and absolutely prevent terrorists from smuggling in nuclear material through containers, as they did two years ago.

In time, we intend to add more detectors to these tunnels, capable of discovering biological pathogens and other dangerous materials. And the National Defence Initiative won't merely increase our safety — scanning and tagging every vehicle and container that enters our country will help the co-ordination of our economy, freeing up essential resources and time.

In the coming hours, we will be releasing more information about the National Defence Initiative, but for the moment I want to pay tribute to the hard-working researchers and engineers who have formulated this plan, led by Universidad Nacional de Asunción and in collaboration with the Distributed Security Collective and Ching Yun University.

Two years ago, I stood here and I pledged that as your President, we would never again see the horrors of Asunción on our soil. It is time for us to protect what we have rebuilt. I am certain that the National Defence Initiative will do that. I hope you will join me in making our country safer and stronger. We owe it to the fallen to protect those who live today.