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Title: Countering the Nuclear Terrorist Threat

Abstract

The nuclear/radioactive threat to homeland security posed by terrorists can be broken into four categories. Of highest concern is the use of an improvised nuclear device (IND). An IND, as its name implies, is a nuclear explosive device. It produces nuclear yield, and this nuclear yield has catastrophic effects. An IND is the ultimate terrorist weapon, and terrorist groups are actively attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. Detonation of an IND could dwarf the devastation of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Dealing with the aftermath of an IND would be horrific. Rescue efforts and cleanup would be hazardous and difficult. Workers would have to wear full protection suits and self-contained breathing apparatus. Because of the residual radioactivity, in certain locations they could only work short times before acquiring their ''lifetime'' dose. As with the Chernobyl event, some rescue workers might well expose themselves to lethal doses of radiation, adding to the casualty toll. Enormous volumes of contaminated debris would have to be removed and disposed. If a terrorist group decides not to pursue an actual nuclear device, it might well turn to Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs) or ''dirty bombs'' as they are often called. RDDs spread radioactivitymore » but they do not generate nuclear yield. The fabrication of an RDD requires radioactive material and a dispersal mechanism. Radioactive materials are used all over the world for medical, industrial, and research applications. Standards for safe handling and accountability of radioactive material vary around the world. Stories in the press suggest inadequate controls on radiological materials in parts of the world. The effects of an RDD vary widely, and are measured in terms of contamination area, health effects to the exposed population, and economic consequences. Even a negligible, but measurable, exposure would exploit the general public's fear of things radioactive and would have significant psychological consequences. The greatest impact of a small release would probably be economic, associated with cleanup and restoration of the contaminated area. Another category of threat is the attack on a facility, either a power reactor or sabotage of a large radiation source. In general these facilities are hard targets (structurally), and damage and contamination are localized. The final category of threat is the use of radioactive materials to deliver a radiation dose to individuals. This type of attack is again localized and does not readily fall into the category of a weapon of mass destruction.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
15013430
Report Number(s):
UCRL-JC-148902
TRN: US0600149
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: International Conference on Physical Protection, Salzburg, Austria, Sep 09 - Sep 12, 2002
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
45 MILITARY TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONRY, AND NATIONAL DEFENSE; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; BOMBS; CONTAMINATION; EXPLOSIONS; LETHAL DOSES; LIFETIME; NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVES; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; PHYSICAL PROTECTION; POWER REACTORS; RADIATION DOSES; RADIATION SOURCES; RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS; RADIOACTIVITY; RESPIRATION; SABOTAGE; SECURITY; TARGETS; WEAPONS

Citation Formats

Vantine, H C. Countering the Nuclear Terrorist Threat. United States: N. p., 2002. Web.
Vantine, H C. Countering the Nuclear Terrorist Threat. United States.
Vantine, H C. Fri . "Countering the Nuclear Terrorist Threat". United States. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/15013430.
@article{osti_15013430,
title = {Countering the Nuclear Terrorist Threat},
author = {Vantine, H C},
abstractNote = {The nuclear/radioactive threat to homeland security posed by terrorists can be broken into four categories. Of highest concern is the use of an improvised nuclear device (IND). An IND, as its name implies, is a nuclear explosive device. It produces nuclear yield, and this nuclear yield has catastrophic effects. An IND is the ultimate terrorist weapon, and terrorist groups are actively attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. Detonation of an IND could dwarf the devastation of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Dealing with the aftermath of an IND would be horrific. Rescue efforts and cleanup would be hazardous and difficult. Workers would have to wear full protection suits and self-contained breathing apparatus. Because of the residual radioactivity, in certain locations they could only work short times before acquiring their ''lifetime'' dose. As with the Chernobyl event, some rescue workers might well expose themselves to lethal doses of radiation, adding to the casualty toll. Enormous volumes of contaminated debris would have to be removed and disposed. If a terrorist group decides not to pursue an actual nuclear device, it might well turn to Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs) or ''dirty bombs'' as they are often called. RDDs spread radioactivity but they do not generate nuclear yield. The fabrication of an RDD requires radioactive material and a dispersal mechanism. Radioactive materials are used all over the world for medical, industrial, and research applications. Standards for safe handling and accountability of radioactive material vary around the world. Stories in the press suggest inadequate controls on radiological materials in parts of the world. The effects of an RDD vary widely, and are measured in terms of contamination area, health effects to the exposed population, and economic consequences. Even a negligible, but measurable, exposure would exploit the general public's fear of things radioactive and would have significant psychological consequences. The greatest impact of a small release would probably be economic, associated with cleanup and restoration of the contaminated area. Another category of threat is the attack on a facility, either a power reactor or sabotage of a large radiation source. In general these facilities are hard targets (structurally), and damage and contamination are localized. The final category of threat is the use of radioactive materials to deliver a radiation dose to individuals. This type of attack is again localized and does not readily fall into the category of a weapon of mass destruction.},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/15013430}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2002},
month = {10}
}

Conference:
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