Nuclear terrorism risk seen growing

LONDON (Reuters) – Western governments must take seriously the possibility of terrorists exploding a nuclear bomb as the necessary materials and know-how become easier to acquire, security analysts argue in two new reports.

“The threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons is real … moreover, the likelihood of terrorists acquiring such weapons is growing as more states aggressively pursue their own nuclear ambitions,” the EastWest Institute said in a study.

It said the first nuclear terrorist may turn out to be an American or European, reflecting a likely evolution in security threats over the next 10-15 years and a possible shift away from al Qaeda-style Islamist militancy toward eco-terrorism.

In a separate report, London’s influential Chatham House think-tank said it was feasible that terrorists could acquire an atomic bomb, build one themselves, create an “improvised nuclear device” or blow up a nuclear power station.

Another risk was the collapse of government control over civil and military nuclear facilities and materials in countries like Pakistan or North Korea.

The design, materials and engineering for a bomb “have all become commodities, more or less available to those determined enough to acquire them”, said Paul Cornish, head of the international security program at Chatham House.

While I’m strongly libertarian, we’ve made the world too dangerous a place to ignore.  I’m afraid we’ll have less freedoms before we have more. 

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