Monroe 9 (Robert, retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency, “A Perfect Storm over Nuclear Weapons”, September 1, Air and Space Power Journal, http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj09/fal09/monroe.html)
Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons, and it is modernizing them. Its political situation is so unstable that those 100-odd weapons could soon fall into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, for many of whom America is the principal target. North Korea and Iran are rogue states, well on their way to becoming nuclear-weapon powers, and, to date, the world has chosen not to stop them. The North Koreans have already conducted two nuclear-weapon tests, and if they successfully begin production of capable weapons, they would probably sell them to any state or organization able to pay. Iran may have a year or two to go before production, but once that occurs, it could very well transfer weapons to terrorist organizations (e.g., Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda) for proxy attacks on the West.
Yes – Nuclear Terrorism
Nuclear terrorisms high probability.
Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, ret.) is Chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, focuses on nuclear nonproliferation, missile defense, military policy, nuclear terrorism, and related national security issues. 2011 (“A Joint Study on Nuclear Proliferation,” The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Accessed online at http://armscontrolcenter.org/policy/nuclearterrorism/articles/a_joint_study_on_nuclear_terrorism/, Accessed on 7/29/11)
On June 6, 2011, the Belfer Center at Harvard University released the results of a year-long study entitled “The U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Nuclear Terrorism”. The study is significant because, between them, the U.S. and Russia possess about 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons and weapons grade nuclear materials that terrorists could use to make crude but highly destructive nuclear explosive devices. Shortly after the report was released, President Obama announced the continuation of the National Emergency, initially declared in 2000, regarding the large volume of weapons-usable fissile materials in Russia in multiple locations, subject to diversion or theft. The joint study warns of a persistent danger that terrorists could obtain or produce nuclear explosive devices and employ them with catastrophic consequences, and that the threat is increasing due to globalization and the proliferation of technical knowledge. “If current approaches toward eliminating the threat are not replaced with a sense of urgency and resolve,” the study report warns, “the question will become not if but when, and on what scale, the first act of nuclear terrorism occurs.” The study states that making a nuclear bomb is potentially within the capabilities of a “technically sophisticated terrorist group.” But the UN Terrorism Prevention Office warned as early as 2001 that there were some 130 terrorist groups capable of developing a home-made nuclear bomb if they could obtain highly enriched uranium or plutonium. The “catastrophic” result of a nuclear attack would not be limited to the resultant loss of life and massive destruction, the study notes, but it also would produce international psychological trauma and widespread political and economic chaos. Both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have recognized that the greatest threat to U.S. and international security is a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. This prompts the question as to why, especially after 9/11 and the explicit threats posed by terrorist organizations, “current approaches” are inadequate, as the report concludes. The study identifies two principal reasons: secrecy on the part of nation states that want to protect their sovereignty and, the most significant barrier, a widespread attitude of complacency. Issues of sovereignty and security have limited the participation of several states including China, Pakistan and India, as well as North Korea and Iran, and probably at least to some extent also the United States. There’s no doubt, however, that complacency has been a major factor in the lack of urgency in dealing with the issue of nuclear terrorism by many nations, including the United States. It’s too easy to consider what has not yet occurred, such as a terrorist nuclear attack, to be unlikely or even far-fetched. President Obama broke the previous mold of half-hearted efforts to prevent terrorists from obtaining fissionable materials that they could use to fashion nuclear explosive devices. He announced in his comprehensive nuclear nonproliferation speech in Prague in 2009 that he would lead an effort to secure these materials world-wide in four years. He followed up this pledge a year later by holding a Nuclear Security Summit with some 47 other countries, which resulted in a work plan and commitments by participating nations to specific actions in the furtherance of that goal. Unfortunately, however, the United States Congress does not share the President’s sense of urgency.
Terrorists can acquire nuclear materials.
Jen Talley, staff writer for Avvo, 3/23/11 (“Could Terrorists Easily Buy a Nuclear Bomb?” Accessed online at http://nakedlaw.avvo.com/2011/03/could-terrorists-easily-buy-a-nuclear-bomb/, Accessed on 7/29/11)
A more likely possibility, according to these same experts, is that a terrorist group could acquire raw materials to produce their own nuclear device. It’s unlikely terrorists would have the materials and expertise needed to covertly make their own HEU and plutonium, which leaves the possibility of theft and illegal purchase. Unfortunately HEU and plutonium are not always as secured as one might expect, and there is no global inventory of these materials. Most sites have state-of-the-art security, but some HEU storage facilities, particularly in places such as India, Pakistan, and former Soviet states, don’t have much more than a security guard and a chain-link fence. The WikiLeaks cables revealed one site in Yemen where weapons-grade radioactive material was sitting in a building with a broken security camera and no guard. The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented 15 confirmed cases of HEU or plutonium theft, in addition to other unconfirmed reports. In most of these cases, thieves were attempting to sell the material to the highest bidder. Al-Qaeda has been actively seeking nuclear material, according to some reports, for nearly 20 years. Fortunately there is no evidence that any terrorist group has yet succeeded in acquiring nuclear weapons or materials.
Terrorists can get the bomb – Pakistan, North Korea, or the Black Market
BBC News 4/12/10 (“Could terrorists get hold of a nuclear bomb?” BBC News, Accessed online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8615484.stm, Accessed on 7/29/11)
Three months later, a commission set up by the US Congress warned that without decisive action it was "more likely than not" that a terrorist attack involving WMD would occur by the end of 2013. Pakistan In Rolf Mowatt-Larssen's view, there is "a greater possibility of a nuclear meltdown in Pakistan than anywhere else in the world". The region has more violent extremists than any other, the country is unstable, and its arsenal of nuclear weapons is expanding. Once a new plutonium reactor comes on line in the near future "smaller, more lethal plutonium bombs will be produced in greater numbers", he says.
The possibility of a Taliban takeover is, he admits, a "worst-case scenario". But the Taliban and al-Qaeda are not the only shadows on the Pakistani landscape. There is also the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, which is accused of carrying out the Mumbai attack in November 2008, and like the Pakistani officer corps, recruits mostly in the Punjab. "As one senior Pakistani general once told me," wrote Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution last week, "the relationship between the army and the Lashkar-e-Taiba is a family affair". He went on: "Pakistan has taken serious measures to protect the crown jewels of its national security, but it lives in a perilous time. If there is a nightmare nuclear security scenario in Pakistan today it is probably an inside-the-family-job that ends up in a nuclear armageddon in India." The point is echoed by Ian Kearns of the British American Security Information Council (Basic), who writes of the danger that states could use terrorist groups to attack adversaries "by proxy", engineering nuclear security breakdowns to facilitate terrorist access to weapons or materials. BBC correspondents say there is every indication that the Pakistani military is in total control of the country's nuclear facilities. North Korea The reason North Korea keeps Rolf Mowatt-Larssen awake at night is connected with the mysterious site at al-Kibar in Syria, destroyed by Israeli missiles in 2007. It's his view that North Korea was helping Syria build a reactor there and that the outside world only found out because of a "windfall of intelligence". "Taking into account the sobering reality that Kim Jong-il came close to providing Syria with the building blocks for nuclear weapons... how confident can the international community be that there is not a long-running 'AQ Kim' network in North Korea that is analogous to the AQ Khan rogue state nuclear supplier network in Pakistan?" he asks. The episode showed, in his view, that it is hard enough for the intelligence community to spot state-related clandestine nuclear activity, let alone clandestine nuclear trafficking of non-state actors, which would have a much smaller footprint. North Korea's "erratic and irresponsible behaviour" makes it a leading potential source for terrorists seeking to acquire nuclear-related technologies and materials, he says. Al-Qaeda Though he now works in academia, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen led US efforts to determine whether al-Qaeda possessed a nuclear bomb, in the wake of 9/11. He doesn't believe it does. But "the group's long-held intent and persistent efforts to acquire nuclear and biological weapons represent a unique means of potentially fulfilling their wildest hopes and aspirations," he writes. Al-Qaeda's experience on the nuclear black market has taught its planners that its best chance lies in constructing an "improvised nuclear device (IND)," he says. For this they would need either a quantity of plutonium or 25kg-50kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the size of one or two grapefruits. HEU is held in hundreds of buildings in dozens of countries. "Security measures for many of these stocks are excellent, but security for others is appalling," according to a report published in 2008 by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. The IAEA registered 15 confirmed cases of unauthorised possession of plutonium or HEU between 1993 and 2008, a few of which involved kilogram-sized quantities. In most cases the quantity was far lower but in some cases the sellers indicated there was more. (If there was, it hasn't been traced.) There is no global inventory of either material, so no-one can be sure how much has gone missing over the years. Neither are there agreed international standards for security and accounting of these materials. UN Security Council Resolution 1540 merely calls for "appropriate and effective" measures, without defining this in detail. "It is a stark and worrying fact, therefore, that nuclear materials and weapons around the world are not as secure as they should be," writes Ian Kearns, in his Basic report. The main goal of the Washington summit is to make progress on this issue.
Nuclear terrorism is feasible -- crushes the global economy
Matthew Bunn, an Associate Professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Col-Gen. E.P. Maslin director of ANO “Aspect-Conversion” specializing in the upgrade of physical protection systems at Russian nuclear hazardous facilities within the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and Global Partnership, 3/11/10 (“All Stocks of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials Worldwide Must be Protected Against Global Terrorist Threats,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, Accessed online at http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/all-stocks-of-weapons-usable-material-eng.pdf, Accessed on 7/29/11)
Several unfortunate facts shape the risk the world faces. First, some terrorists are actively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, and the plutonium or HEU needed to make them. Osama bin Laden has called the acquisition of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction a "religious duty", and al-Qaeda operatives have attempted to buy nuclear material and recruit nuclear expertise. Two senior Pakistani nuclear weapon scientists associated with Ummah Tameer e-Nau (UTN) network, for example, personally met with bin Laden and Zawahiri to discuss nuclear weapons. In the 1990s, the Japanese terror cult Aum Shinrikyo, which launched the nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995, also sought nuclear weapons. There is clear evidence that Chechen terrorists have pursued radiological "dirty bombs," and at least suggestive indications of their interest in actual nuclear bombs as well -- and there are deep links between some Chechen terrorist factions and al Qaeda. With at least two terrorist groups having pursued nuclear weapons in the last two decades, the world should not expect that they will be the last. Second, repeated assessments by the U.S. government and other governments have concluded that it is plausible that a sophisticated terrorist group could make a crude nuclear explosive -- capable of destroying the heart of a major city -- if they got enough plutonium or HEU. A "gun-type" bomb made from HEU, in particular, is basically a matter of slamming two pieces of HEU together at high speed. One study by the now-defunct congressional Office of Technology Assessment summarized the technical reality: "A small group of people, none of whom have ever had access to the classified literature, could possibly design and build a crude nuclear explosive device... Only modest machine-shop facilities that could be contracted for without arousing suspicion would be required." Indeed, even before the revelations from Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence concluded that "fabrication of at least a 'crude' nuclear device was within al-Qa'ida's capabilities, if it could obtain fissile material." The hardest part of making a nuclear bomb is producing the needed plutonium or HEU -- a task that took up more than 90% of the effort in the U.S. Manhattan Project. Making their own nuclear material is almost certainly beyond terrorist nuclear capabilities -- so if the stocks controlled by states can be appropriately secured and kept out of terrorist hands, nuclear terrorism can be prevented. It is important to understand that making a crude, unsafe, unreliable bomb of uncertain yield that might be carried in the back of a large van is a dramatically simpler task than designing and building a safe, secure, reliable, and efficient weapon deliverable by a ballistic missile, which a state might want to incorporate into its arsenal. Terrorists are highly unlikely to ever be able to make a sophisticated and efficient weapon, a task that requires a substantial nuclear weapons enterprise -- but they may well be able to make a crude one. Their task would be easier if they managed to recruit knowledgeable help, which they have been actively attempting to do. Third, there is a real risk that terrorists could get the plutonium or HEU needed to make a nuclear bomb. Important weaknesses in nuclear security arrangements still exist in many countries, creating weaknesses that outsider or insider thieves might exploit. HEU-fueled research reactors, for example, sometimes located on university campuses, often have only the most minimal security measures in place. One recent review of research reactors that had received U.S.-sponsored security upgrades identified research reactors that were wholly dependent on off-site response forces to respond to a theft attempt, but had never exercised the capabilities of those forces; a reactor that conducted no search of vehicles leaving the site for potential nuclear contraband; a reactor for which the national regulatory agency had not established any nuclear security requirements; and a reactor where no background checks were performed before allowing access to nuclear material. In countries such as Pakistan, even substantial nuclear security systems are challenged by immense adversary threats, both from nuclear insiders - some with a demonstrated sympathy for Islamic extremists - and from outside attacks that might include scores or hundreds of armed attackers. In the end, all countries where these materials exist - including the United States and Russia - must regularly reassess whether the security they have in place is sufficient to meet the evolving threat. As a result of such security weaknesses, there have been 18 incidents of theft or loss of HEU or separated plutonium confirmed to the IAEA by the states concerned. Most recently, in February 2006, Russian citizen Oleg Khinsagov was arrested in Georgia (along with three Georgian accomplices) with 79.5 grams of 89% enriched HEU, claiming that he had kilograms more available for sale. What we do not know, of course, is how many thefts may have occurred that were never detected; it is a sobering fact that nearly all of the stolen HEU and plutonium that has been seized over the years had never been missed before it was seized. There have also been alarming intrusions. In 2007, for example, at the Pelindaba nuclear facility in South Africa, where hundreds of kilograms of weapon-grade HEU are located, two teams of armed men attacked from opposite sides of the site: one of the teams got through a 10,000-volt security fence, disabled intrusion detectors without detection, proceeded to the emergency control center (where they shot one of the workers on duty), and spent 45 minutes inside the guarded perimeter without ever being engaged by site security forces. Fourth, it would be extremely difficult to stop terrorists from smuggling nuclear material or a crude nuclear weapon to its target. A nuclear bomb might be delivered, intact or in ready-to-assemble pieces, by boat or aircraft or truck. The length of national borders, the diversity of means of transport, the vast scale of legitimate traffic across borders, and the ease of shielding the radiation from plutonium or especially from HEU all operate in favor of the terrorists. Building the overall system of legal infrastructure, intelligence, law enforcement, border and customs forces, and radiation detectors needed to find and recover stolen nuclear weapons or materials, or to interdict these as they cross national borders, is an extraordinarily difficult challenge. Fifth, even a single terrorist nuclear bomb would be a catastrophe that would change history. The heart of a major city could be reduced to a smoldering radioactive ruin, leaving tens or hundreds of thousands of people dead. Terrorists -- either those who committed the attack or others -- would probably claim they had more bombs already hidden in other cities (whether they did nor not), and the fear that this might be true could lead to panicked evacuations, creating widespread havoc and economic disruption. Some countries may feel that nuclear terrorism is really only a concern for the countries most likely to be the targets, such as the United States. In reality, however, such an event would cause devastating economic aftershocks throughout the world -- global effects that in 2005 then-UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan warned would push "tens of millions of people into dire poverty," creating "a second death toll throughout the developing world."