The threat of radiological terrorism
Woods, Matthew E.
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WMD terrorism is a new concern. The United States is preparing for the possibility of terrorist attacks involving chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, but the scope of these preparations is too narrow. This thesis argues that radiological devices are also viable weapons of mass destruction for terrorism. Radiological weapons are not nuclear explosives, they are designed to disperse radioactive material over an area by mechanical means or conventional explosives. The potential for radiological terrorism depends upon access to the required nuclear materials and the motivations for terrorists to use radiological weapons. Rasiological weapons can use non-lethal grade nuclear material which is widely accessible throughout the world. The materials is under a spectrum of physical security systems with little accountability and verification. Radiological weapons can further terrorist objectives because they can be used to contaminate individuals without producing the immediate and catastrophic damage normally associated with WMD. This prospect of contamination is enough to incite the public's fear of the nuclear unknown or nuclear phobia. To counter radiological terrorism, the U.S. government should expand indication and warning through efforts to maximize the intelligence community's human intelligence assets and exploit open source collection
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