When Terrorists Go Nuclear

By: Aaron Laylo



 About nine years ago, in November 2001, as U.S. warplanes flew over Afghanistan, Usama bin Laden told a nerve-racking statement to Pakistani journalist Hamid Mira, “Al Qaeda had access to nuclear weapons and would not hesitate to use them for “self-defense.”

Days are already dangerous and getting even more dangerous as dissenters make use of the latest and highly-developed machineries, tools and equipment in technology to frighten people and pressure governments to the extent of spurring discord in the latter. Eventually, referent objects, being the constant target of terrorist attacks and after being choked by threats, may become destabilized in the absence of pertinent security measures.

For years, strategic placement of cities and borders along coasts or natural barriers, the use of wall defenses, mighty armadas and trenches and tight ethno-religious groupings have been used as security strategies by nations to safeguard their territories from the foes’ invasion and other threats that may destabilize their society or even wipe out their civilization. The advent of the 20th century has seen airplanes, submarines, ballistic missiles, and weapons of mass destruction as new-fangled approaches to security. Since then, continuous innovations and revolutions have been made to satisfy standards of security. With this contemporary equipments and supplies, borders have become increasingly leaky thus the possibilities of breaking into the referent object’s realm. Consequently, destruction may just be seconds away to the very doorstep of territories on a scale previously not envisioned.

So to speak, we are living in a so called “borderless world.” This implies the continuing trend of globalization. This is the forcing factor that changes the international security landscape in a very drastic manner that it has compelled a fundamental reevaluation of security strategies. The global community has become interdependent, with the constant movement of people, ideas and goods. Migration, information, technology, ideas, goods and almost everything transferable are done conveniently. Given this fact, that we are in a borderless world, the threats that we face also have no borders and they continue to increase and break into every part of the globe. Endeavors are much more difficult to combat now and just as they are complex, the approaches should also be complex.

Perhaps, the toughest endeavor and threat that the international community faces these times is terrorism. The recent significant terrorist attacks have put the issue of terrorism in a salient position in the academic quarters particularly in courses on contemporary issues as well as international peace and security studies. The threat of the use of nuclear terrorism likewise tends to make it even more worth the attention or limelight status.


This paper will focus on the possible use of nuclear bomb by terrorists which poses grave threat to international security. This is indeed a very perilous menacing deed or act of terrorists whose aim is to get attention from the international community. The probable acquisition, formulation, and use of nuclear weapons and devices as well as attacking or sabotaging their targets using stolen materials for the sinister purpose of mass destruction, basing on the intensity and nature of such treacherous acts, are grave threats to the international community, not just to direct target objects. In this way, the international community does not only become an audience, but also to some extent indirect victims of fear and trauma.

The primary concern of the paper is the possible use of nuclear terrorism by extremists. It aims to expound on three important concerns. First, what is nuclear terrorism and how dangerous is it? Second, how big is the possibility of terrorists using nuclear bombs to inflict terror (this shall be explicated by detailing the process of acquiring, formulating, and using of the dirty bombs)?. Third, what have been done and what else can be done to sustain the already laid down measures to stop nuclear terrorism?

 Credible studies and analysis by scholars on global security and nuclear proliferation as well as organizations and groups inclined to the study of nuclear risks and counter-measures have been used as these are certainly important and helpful as a jumping ground for the seminar paper.

(For complete version of the article, please email me at


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