NewsNuclear terrorism risk in the USA demands urgent attention, experts warn

Nuclear terrorism risk in the USA demands urgent attention, experts warn

Is the USA threatened by nuclear terrorism? Scientists speak with one voice
Is the USA threatened by nuclear terrorism? Scientists speak with one voice
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21 June 2024 12:28

The threat of nuclear terrorism is increasing and calls for urgent attention. A recent report and analysis by the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration have drawn alarming conclusions: the USA must be prepared for new and evolving threats.

According to a report cited by "The Miami Herald", efforts by the American government are insufficient to meet the changing nature of these threats. Expanded, continuous, and adaptive measures are necessary to manage the risk of nuclear terrorism effectively.

Stephen Flynn, a professor of political science and founder of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University, stated, "The issue of nuclear terrorism remains very much a real one, there are enormous stakes involved and the risks are high, but the issue has been falling off the radar screen of the American public over the last 15 years, and the skill set of people involved in managing it is aging out."
Since the September 11th attacks and the subsequent war in Iraq, the landscape of nuclear terrorism has changed significantly. Flynn noted, "We had a war on terror after 9/11, but that didn’t succeed in eliminating the terrorsim threat. Terrorism continues to morph."

Currently, actions by Israel in the Palestinian territories, along with those by Hamas and the Iranian group Hezbollah, considered terrorist organisations by the US State Department, contribute to a world where states and non-state entities seeking nuclear weapons are engaged in conflicts.

The report's authors also highlight the development of the civilian nuclear sector, which could pose an additional threat. Americans view nuclear power plants being built in countries under the influence of China or Russia with suspicion, considering that these nations may approach safety issues with less rigour.

Additionally, the report emphasises that most materials capable of producing a "dirty bomb" have always been challenging to control, and now more such materials are available.

New threats to the USA and ways to combat them

The report ends optimistically, stressing that the USA can meet many of the challenges discussed, provided it continues its efforts and adapts to new threats.

The report's authors highlight that Americans have invested significant effort in managing this risk over the years, preventing a nuclear incident.

"There is a lot of knowledge we have about managing the nuclear risk, as we have been doing it for decades, but there are also new tools and there’s a lot of ways to update our response from the Cold War days. This is something we should be worried about. … But take a deep breath, we have been managing this risk since the dawn of the nuclear age, so let’s draw on that experience, and there are new technologies and ways we can deal with this risk that are better aligned to the world we are living in," summarised Flynn.
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