Skrekkscenariet er en atombombe i hendene på terrorister. Det ville være nok med en dirty bombe, dvs. radioaktivt materiale som spres via konvensjonelle sprengemner. Slikt materiale finnes på tusenvis av steder verden over, og er umulig å kontrollere.
“We believe the potential for nuclear terrorism remains high,” said Page Stoutland, vice-president for nuclear security at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based think-tank.
“There are currently thousands of tons of nuclear materials in the world and those materials today are stored at hundreds of sites in over 30 countries.” he said. “Some of those sites are well secured. Many are not, leaving weapons-usable nuclear materials vulnerable to theft or sale on the black market to terrorist organizations.
“The elements of a perfect storm are in place: an ample supply of weapons-usable nuclear materials, an expansion of the knowledge and technical know-how to build a crude nuclear bomb accessible by the Internet or through rogue scientists and the determination of terrorists organizations to do it.”
The single greatest nuclear threat remains terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons.
Scientists have estimated that, if detonated at New York’s Grand Central Station, a ten-kiloton bomb (two-thirds the yield of the world’s first nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima) would kill over 500,000 people immediately, injure hundreds of thousands more, permanently destroy most of Lower Manhattan and force the evacuation of all of New York City. Damage would be in the trillions of dollars.
“A nuclear attack would be among the most difficult types of attacks for terrorists to accomplish,” concludes a report prepared by Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom. But, with the necessary fissile materials, “a capable and well-organized terrorist group plausibly could make, deliver and detonate at least a crude nuclear bomb capable of incinerating the heart of any major city in the world.
The amounts needed to build a crude nuclear bomb are small. With an efficient implosion design, a baseball-sized lump of plutonium weighing as little as four kilograms or a softball-sized lump of highly enriched uranium weighing 12 kilograms would be enough.
To build a less efficient, but still devastating, gun-type bomb, terrorists would need 48 to 60 kilograms of highly enriched uranium.
“There is an immense difference between the difficulty of making safe, reliable weapons for use in a missile or combat aircraft and making crude, unsafe, unreliable weapons for delivery by truck,” said Matthew Bunn, a professor at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
“With highly enriched uranium, a gun-type bomb — like the one that obliterated Hiroshima — is very plausibly within the capabilities of a sophisticated terrorist group,” he said.
With weapons-usable nuclear material stored in hundreds of buildings in dozens of countries, under security situations that range from very stringent to virtually non-existent, the risk of terrorists acquiring bomb-making materials remains great.
“Theft of only 0.01% of the world stockpile could cause a global catastrophe,” Mr. Bunn said.
I 2007 fant det sted et angrep på Sør-Afrikas atomreaktor, angriperne var inne på anlegget i 45 minutter før en såret vakt greide å slå alarm. Man har ikke funnet ut hvem de var.
In 2007, a group of attackers came within a breath of stealing the ingredients for a nuclear bomb, when they launched a midnight raid on South Africa’s Pelindaba nuclear research centre, just west of Pretoria.
South Africa developed nuclear weapons in 1979 and became the only state in the world to voluntarily abandon their nuclear arsenal in 1991. But the country still stores enough weapons-grade material for 25 nuclear bombs at the Pelindaba site.
On November 8, 2007, two teams of armed, well-trained men attacked Pelindaba from two different directions. They deactivated several layers of security, including a 10,000 volt electrical fence, and entered the facility’s control centre, where they shot a security guard, who still managed to trip an alarm.
The attackers fled before they were able to take any nuclear material. But they spent 45 minutes alone inside the nuclear centre and have never been caught.
Mandag åpner en stor sikkerhetskonferanse i Seoul som nettopp har som mål å hindre at terrorister får fatt på radioaktivit materiale.
On Monday, the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, the largest gathering of world leaders since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, aims to create a global system that will deny terrorists access to nuclear materials through improved security, decreased use of potent materials, enhanced regulatory and export controls, increased intelligence sharing, expanded use of radiation detectors and improved disposal and recycling of nuclear material.
A follow-up meeting to a nuclear summit, convened by U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington in 2010, the Seoul meeting is tightly focused on keeping nuclear weapons and radiological materials out of the hands of terrorists. It will deal only tangentially, in sideline discussions, with nuclear proliferation threats posed by countries such as Iran and North Korea. But the threat of devastating death and destruction will still dominate the talks.