Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism

April 2, 2004 • Volume 14, Issue 13
Can “rogue” states and terrorists acquire nuclear weapons?
By Mary H. Cooper

Introduction

The mushroom cloud from Romeo, an 11-megaton hydrogen bomb, rises over Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific on March 26, 1954. Most modern nuclear weapons are much weaker; W88 warheads on U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles, for example, yield only 475-kilotons, or 32 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. A megaton is equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT, a kiloton to 1 thousand tons.  (U.S. Department of Energy)
The mushroom cloud from Romeo, an 11-megaton hydrogen bomb, rises over Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific on March 26, 1954. Most modern nuclear weapons are much weaker; W88 warheads on U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles, for example, yield only 475-kilotons, or 32 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. A megaton is equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT, a kiloton to 1 thousand tons. (U.S. Department of Energy)

The recent discovery of a global black market in nuclear weapons and related technology has intensified concerns that so-called rogue nations and terrorist organizations like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network might acquire nuclear bombs. The network run by the “father” of Pakistan's atomic bomb, A.Q. Khan, sold nuclear-weapons materials to Iran and North Korea, which have refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Virtually all the other nations of the world are signatories. President Bush responded to the revelations about Khan's network with a plan to strengthen international anti-proliferation efforts, including calling on the U.N. Security Council to require all states to criminalize proliferation of components that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction. While arms experts commended the president for focusing on proliferation, some said his proposals did not go far enough.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Terrorism
Apr. 01, 2016  Defeating the Islamic State
Jan. 29, 2016  Unrest in Turkey
Jun. 27, 2014  Assessing the Threat From al Qaeda
Sep. 02, 2011  Remembering 9/11
Sep. 03, 2010  Homegrown Jihadists
Mar. 12, 2010  Prosecuting Terrorists Updated
Nov. 2009  Terrorism and the Internet
Feb. 13, 2009  Homeland Security
Apr. 21, 2006  Port Security
Oct. 14, 2005  Global Jihad
Apr. 02, 2004  Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism
Feb. 22, 2002  Policing the Borders
Oct. 12, 2001  War on Terrorism
Jul. 21, 1995  Combating Terrorism
Aug. 26, 1988  New Approach to Mideast Terrorism
May 30, 1986  Dealing With Terrorism
Oct. 08, 1982  Prospects for Peace in Northern Ireland
Mar. 27, 1981  Anti-Terrorism: New Priority in Foreign Policy
Dec. 02, 1977  International Terrorism
Jan. 26, 1973  Control of Skyjacking
May 13, 1970  Political Terrorism
Jul. 24, 1952  Red Terrorism in Malaya
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Arms Control and Disarmament
Military Intelligence
Terrorism and Counterterrorism