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Journal Article

Citation

Maerli MB, Schaper A, Barnaby F. Am. Behav. Sci. 2003; 46(6): 727-744.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2003, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/0002764202239151

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

The risk of nuclear terrorism may still be low, but the possible level of physical destruction, fatalities, and injuries is so great in and of itself that the potential for terrorist acquisition and use of nuclear devices warrants serious consideration. By addressing characteristics of potential nuclear terrorist weapons, this paper provides some observations on the likelihood of nuclear terrorism and on the technical feasibility of crude nuclear weapon production. It will be shown that the production obstacles may be lower than anticipated and that technical barriers should not be regarded sufficient to avoid future nuclear terrorism. Preventing any extremist group from achieving their goals of large-scale nuclear violence can best be done by denying them access to highly enriched uranium or plutonium, the essential ingredients of any nuclear device. Adequate protection and control of such materials is thus vital. However, the gap between the threat and the international response seems to be widening.

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