# Chance of a terrorist A-bomb detonating in a major city

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Loren Booda
What do you believe is the chance of a terrorist atomic bomb exploding in a Western metropolis, or even on a battlefield like Iraq's?

Staff Emeritus
Sure it's possible, but depends on a critical factor - access to a pit of Pu-239 (~5-8 kg) and appropriate triggering device.

A western metropolis is a more likely target, than the Iraqi battlefield.

I think the possibility is remote, unless terrorists can get a nuke from an advanced nuclear power. It is my understanding that a nuclear device is very large and bulky. It would need to be an advanced device in order to be small enough to smuggle.

A western metropolis would be a much likelier target than the Iraqi battlefield.

It is far more likely, in my opinion, that the current administration will use battlefield nukes against Iran. :surprised

Smurf
It's remote enough it's not worth considering.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Smurf said:
It's remote enough it's not worth considering.

We should maybe considering how many physicists would be willing to work on a nuke for terrorists, against a lot of $$? Townsend Skyhunter said: I think the possibility is remote, unless terrorists can get a nuke from an advanced nuclear power. It is my understanding that a nuclear device is very large and bulky. It would need to be an advanced device in order to be small enough to smuggle. A western metropolis would be a much likelier target than the Iraqi battlefield. It is far more likely, in my opinion, that the current administration will use battlefield nukes against Iran. :surprised I have heard speculation that both the US and Russia developed suitcase bombs that could be used as tactical nukes if the need were to ever arise. http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/News/DoSuitcaseNukesExist.html Townsend vanesch said: We should maybe considering how many physicists would be willing to work on a nuke for terrorists, against a lot of$$\$ ?

I agree, I think perhaps we should...

stoned
Skyhunter said:
It is far more likely, in my opinion, that the current administration will use battlefield nukes against Iran. :surprised

Exactly!, or maybe White house looking for pretext for attack on Iran will nuke US city and blame it on evil Iran.

Burnsys
stoned said:
Exactly!, or maybe White house looking for pretext for attack on Iran will nuke US city and blame it on evil Iran.

I think that is the most posible scenario...

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Burnsys said:
I think that is the most posible scenario...

Now, if they would pick Washington...and forget to tell the boss... :tongue2:

Burnsys
vanesch said:
Now, if they would pick Washington...and forget to tell the boss... :tongue2:

Well. you know, there isn't a very good comunication between the various agencies. :rofl: :rofl:

Homework Helper
Loren Booda said:
What do you believe is the chance of a terrorist atomic bomb exploding in a Western metropolis, or even on a battlefield like Iraq's?
Chance of an atomic bomb? Virtually none.

Chance of a bomb that will spread radioactive material exploding in a Western metropolis? Very good.

The actual effect of a 'dirty' bomb won't be very big, since a conventional bomb can't spread the radioactive material very effectively, but it will cause a huge reaction of terror, especially in the city where it occurred. If it's detonated in a location where even a local spread of radioactive material can affect a huge number of people, it will have an even bigger emotional impact.

edward
BobG said:
Chance of an atomic bomb? Virtually none.

If it's detonated in a location where even a local spread of radioactive material can affect a huge number of people, it will have an even bigger emotional impact.

I have a concern for the Seaports on the west coast. They unload thousands of large containers of imported goods from Asia in a single day. Two dirty bombs one at the port of Los Angeles and one at Long Beach would be a disaster for us financially.

And I think that is what they want. Even Bin Laden said that they will bleed us financially. The war in Iraq is already doing a number on our finances.

Manchot
I think that there's a bigger chance that somebody in the military will accidentally hit the "red button."

Gold Member
Loren Booda said:
What do you believe is the chance of a terrorist atomic bomb exploding in a Western metropolis, or even on a battlefield like Iraq's?

From what I hear...

fission bomb: almost impossible

In a western city: highly likely
In Iraq: highly unlikely, too dangerous of a proposition to pull off.

Gold Member
Burnsys said:
I think that is the most posible scenario...

Coming from someone who thought the WTC attacks were controlled demolitions, Im not surprised

Or was that the smoking dude.....

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Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
edward said:
And I think that is what they want. Even Bin Laden said that they will bleed us financially. The war in Iraq is already doing a number on our finances.

Yes that is absolutely true, and with the current bozo in the white house, he's helping them a lot. So probably the best strategy, if I were OBL, would be to tickle Dubya just enough for him to engage in another war, like Iran. How, I don't know. He could send in a cardboard model of a bomb, with "BOOM" on it, may be ? And a note "the next one is the real one my friends the Iranians are making for me" ?

Gold Member
vanesch said:
Yes that is absolutely true, and with the current bozo in the white house, he's helping them a lot. So probably the best strategy, if I were OBL, would be to tickle Dubya just enough for him to engage in another war, like Iran. How, I don't know. He could send in a cardboard model of a bomb, with "BOOM" on it, may be ? And a note "the next one is the real one my friends the Iranians are making for me" ?

Maybe he'll say the French are making it for him.... I mean thats what the French have historically done, arm nations/militant groups in the middle east against international sanctions. Maybe we'll finally do what the British have been telling us to do for so long. :rofl: :rofl:

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
edward said:
I have a concern for the Seaports on the west coast. They unload thousands of large containers of imported goods from Asia in a single day. Two dirty bombs one at the port of Los Angeles and one at Long Beach would be a disaster for us financially.

I'm sure nobody remembers at this point, but I told a story a while back about how some friends and I drove a racing boat, more than large enough to contain a bomb, right into the Port of Long Beach. We were only looking around for run, but it was surprising how easy it was. We only saw one Harbor Police boat, that finally started coming toward us after about fifteen minutes, but it was way too slow to catch us when we took off.

Then again, we were coming from elsewhere in Long Beach, so it's not like we entered through the jetty. The security out there might be somewhat tighter. I can only hope it is.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Pengwuino said:
Maybe he'll say the French are making it for him.... I mean thats what the French have historically done, arm nations/militant groups in the middle east against international sanctions. Maybe we'll finally do what the British have been telling us to do for so long. :rofl: :rofl:

Well, given the fact that George believes just any imposter calling for a war (style Chalaby), after all, why not. The aim is that you go uselessly to war, and spend all you have on it (and even a bit more). If as a side effect, you also create a sense of menace to all those that could potentially turn into OBL fans, then that's even better (fear works on both sides). That's why France wouldn't be the ideal target: there's not so many potential OBL fans around here. The UK is already slightly better of course . But the real attraction is a country with a strong Islamic population. If he could get you to war with Iran, Syria, Lybia, Turkey, Pakistan and, cherry on top of the cake, Saoudi Arabia, that would be his dream. If in doing so, he can even create an international wave of indignation, so that the US looses its friends, all the better. You'd be broke, no friends left, and create a lot of sympathy for OBL. And all this for the price of a cardboard bomb and a few stamps :-)

NewScientist
There are a number of difficulties in creating and placing and finally detonating a nuclear bomb. (I ignore the difference between a dirty bomb, and a nuclear bomb with detonator etc)

In creating the bomb there are these problems.
1) Acquiring enough (and the correct purity) of nuclear material
2) Preventing tracing of the nuclear material.
3) Finding physicists (+ perhaps electronics experts - to wire a non-defuseable bomb) who have the knowledge to make the bomb work.
4) Preventing the tracking of the physicists and any suspistion they have become 'rogue'.
5) To find a secure location to build the bomb in.
6) Finding the funds to fuel the operation.
7) Crossing borders with such material.
8) To not arouse suspicion in the way they work.

In placing the bomb there are these problems.
1) Moving the bomb to target country (if different)
2) Moving the bomb into target country (if different)
3) As it is unfeasible to transport the bomb as 1 unit - the bomb would be broken down int composite parts and so another job would be to rebuild it - this would require moving the technical members of the team - physicists and the like to the new country - an issue worth considering. also, as the bomb will be spread over multiple transports, it is more likely it may be discovered.
4) Finding the place where the bomb will cause the appropriate amount of damage. (I use appropriate as the goal of terrorists may be to solely show they are capable of such an act rather than actually committing mass murder.) If mass murder is the objective then placement is important to cause maximum fall out damage.
5) Not arousing the suspicion of intelligence agencies and the public - as a terrorist cell who has acess to nuclear material - you are probably known to the intelligence services and so are probably being watched - this will make the whole operation ni on impossible to carry out unless state sponsored. (States can hide the transport, procurement and placing of the bomb with more ease than a terrorist organization.)

In detonating a bomb :
1) There is a chance of failure
2) The chance of discovery by an intelligence agency.

Due to these factors it is hard to create such a bomb + then fulfil the mission objective. Studying the problems one will probably decide the profile for a nuclear bomb exploding in a metropolis is :

A dirty bomb (they are simpler to make), with a timer wired so it is non-defuseable, sponsored by a nuclear state 9declared or not) which perhaps has diplomatic relations with the target country. Also, the bombers will not be affiliated to any states or terrorist organizations which are known to the security forces of the world. The physicists will not be well known or have links to terrorist cells or rogue nations.

The bomb will more than likely be made or sponsored by North Korea or Iran or a similar state and detonated on US soil to create as many casualties and as maximum shock as possible - this means an attack in a major city - visible to many the world over. I would suspect Washington or New York.

-just my 2 cents

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The Smoking Man
Just a thought but has anybody actually found the nukes that the Soviets lost during the collapse of the Union?

I've heard reports of as many as 200 and as low as 17.

North Korea is supposed to have maybe one or two.

That would leave ... oh, ... NYC, Seattle, LA, Austin, Columbus, Philadelphia, Detroit ...

You get the drift.

And remember, they all went missing before 9/11 so conditions on the west coast were ideal for dropping stuff off on the beaches.

Pravda Terrorism Questions & Answers http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/latimes.htm [Broken] http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/thisweek/2002_3_7_nucw.html [Broken] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,37605,00.html so it must be true.

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gurkhawarhorse
i heard (my brother said) that when USSR broke some nuclear power bombs were lost. :uhh:
Nah... thats just a speculation by my brother . hey dont curse me if it is wrong. :grumpy:

gurkhawarhorse
The Smoking Man said:
Just a thought but has anybody actually found the nukes that the Soviets lost during the collapse of the Union?

I've heard reports of as many as 200 and as low as 17.

North Korea is supposed to have maybe one or two.

That would leave ... oh, ... NYC, Seattle, LA, Austin, Columbus, Philadelphia, Detroit ...

You get the drift.

And remember, they all went missing before 9/11 so conditions on the west coast were ideal for dropping stuff off on the beaches.

Pravda Terrorism Questions & Answers http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/latimes.htm [Broken] http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/thisweek/2002_3_7_nucw.html [Broken] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,37605,00.html so it must be true.

why am i always late to make it look as if i copied it? :grumpy:

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The Smoking Man
gurkhawarhorse said:
why am i always late to make it look as if i copied it? :grumpy:
Shhhh ... Don't tell them. Nobody will know we're brothers. :surprised

stoned
if terrist had any suitcase bombs they would have use them long time ago, real terrorist are our governments and i'm 10000000x more affraid of them .

Townsend said:
I have heard speculation that both the US and Russia developed suitcase bombs that could be used as tactical nukes if the need were to ever arise.

http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/News/DoSuitcaseNukesExist.html
That is why I thought that it would need to come from an advanced nuclear power. I had heard of that, I think it was from you.

edward
Small nuclear devices are definitely out there.

Then came the bombshell. If that missile deal went through, asked the Lithuanians, was there interest in small nuclear devices? The undercover cops said they would be very interested. They nicknamed this new deal "Project 2" and agreed to put it off until the missile deal was concluded.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/russia/scenario/

The container held devices that use the radioactive element americium to probe oil wells. It had been imported from Russia by Halliburton Energy Services and was bound for Houston, but was shipped from Newark to Boston by mistake.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...e_equipment_brings_rebuke_for_nuclear_agency/

There is a lot of radioactive material used in the oil industry.

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Dayle Record
If a nuclear bomb devastated a US city, it would be an internal matter, a matter of treasonous activity aimed at terrorizing our nation for political gain. It would take a rogue fascist American general to accomplish something like that. Or else what would happen is that they way electronics work these days, someone will just hack a communications system somewhere, and one of our subs will let loose on us. The US government employs so many civilian contractors these days, they run some of the most sensitive situations. A civilian contractor, for instance, runs the FBI's computer systems. Many, many routine communications are being outsourced to foreign nations, and in my mind that creates a more, and more open network in general, and at some point there will be a conduit that makes a mess of things.

I think that the rash of airline crashes in South America is a possible indicator of future activities. I think that we depend on extremely accurate measurement, and take it for granted. There is a possibility that terrorist activity could happen as a matter of a few degrees, that results in a slow rise in overall error, that once perfected will result in perhaps some more horrific results.

I don't buy the term terrorism. I think that some people that we have been walking all over, for some time, are acting out against us. I think that some other people that have a lot to gain have profited enormously from the "war on terror". I see this as giant corporations and their doings, have put our nation at risk. If they had behaved properly to begin with, none of this would be happening.

Oh yes, and there is also the "idiot factor", that being Murphy's Law applied to nuclear disaster. Stupid things happen, really stupid things happen and that something stupider than Hiroshima or Nagasaki hasn't happened yet, is simply a miracle.

I was once in a rest stop, going west on the interstate heading into Nevada. A big red semi tractor with a large sleeper compartment stopped at the stop. There was no trailer on this vehicle. It was a cherry red rig, in great condition. The middle eastern guys just kept getting out of this thing to use the restroom. There had to be at least 12 guys stuffed into that vehicle. The were coming out in rotations of 2-4. I quit watching them because I was nervous to do so. If there were going to be a weapon in one of our cities, it would be driven right into the heart as easily as that, they would intercept a shipment somewhere, and make it happen. I think we have hurt a lot more people than we have helped with our policies, especially in more recent history. As hard as people work for the good, we still on the balance do a lot of harm.

The laws of physics are that balance will be achieved, by one means or another, and there is a physics of the personal accountability of nations. We have a very short term mentality in this nation, take now, take now, make bigger markets. Other nations do not forget, and practice a very long term planning, and remembrance strategy, I have never harmed anyone in my life, or discriminated, but my nation before I was born, committed acts that I may someday have to answer for, in the long term game.

Nice post Dale. I concur.

I always thought it was quite naive to believe that people are willing to blow themselves up because they "hate our freedom".

NewScientist
Dayle Record said:
If a nuclear bomb devastated a US city, it would be an internal matter, a matter of treasonous activity aimed at terrorizing our nation for political gain. It would take a rogue fascist American general to accomplish something like that.

I don't see how a rogue fascist general could make political gain from the murder of millions of citizens of his country.

Dayle Record said:
Or else what would happen is that they way electronics work these days, someone will just hack a communications system somewhere, and one of our subs will let loose on us.

Okay - every year the US government go around the top universities ad take off the best programmers and encoders and use them to develop newn encoding techniques and cracking techniques, such is the development and overlay of skills that hacking a DOD is beyond even the greatest supercomputer currently in existance.

Let me express it very simply for you - we have (in this case) an crytographic arms race between the US gov.t (DOD) and the global community of terrorists and cryptographers.

The DOD has a multi-billion dollar budget per annum just for cryptography - the worlds terrorists and crypto guys dont have 10million between them to be spent on such efforts.

The DOD has the power to imprisson every terrorist crypto agent they deem a threat - the terrorists hav eno such ability.

And before I risk talking to you like you are a pre-school child i will stop there.

Dayle Record said:
The US government employs so many civilian contractors these days, they run some of the most sensitive situations. A civilian contractor, for instance, runs the FBI's computer systems. Many, many routine communications are being outsourced to foreign nations, and in my mind that creates a more, and more open network in general, and at some point there will be a conduit that makes a mess of things.

So you are suggesting that the US gov't is voluntarily making itself more open to attacks on itself?! Think that through!

Also consider all fighter jets are made by contractors - do you have a problem there, or the fact most weapons are?! Or thesunglasses US troops wear? Or that the language specialists used to train US officials and troops tend to be natives of foreign nations?!

Dayle Record said:
I think that the rash of airline crashes in South America is a possible indicator of future activities. I think that we depend on extremely accurate measurement, and take it for granted. There is a possibility that terrorist activity could happen as a matter of a few degrees, that results in a slow rise in overall error, that once perfected will result in perhaps some more horrific results.

Do you even know how air traffic control systems work? Do you know who monitors thm after 9/11? No? - Go research.

Dayle Record said:
I don't buy the term terrorism. I think that some people that we have been walking all over, for some time, are acting out against us.

That is still terrorism -I point you to wiki:
"Terrorism refers to the use of violence for the purpose of achieving a political, religious, or ideological goal. The targets of terrorist acts can be government officials, military personnel, people serving the interests of governments, or civilians. Acts of terror against military targets tend to blend into a strategy of guerrilla warfare. According to one view, one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Random violence against civilians (noncombatants) is the type of action."

Dayle Record said:
Oh yes, and there is also the "idiot factor", that being Murphy's Law applied to nuclear disaster. Stupid things happen, really stupid things happen

Although in all seriousness there is a case to say that the chance of a nuclear attack is always there but then again that does not mean that there will definitely be a nuclear bomb that goes off.

Dayle Record said:
The middle eastern guys just kept getting out of this thing to use the restroom. There had to be at least 12 guys stuffed into that vehicle. The were coming out in rotations of 2-4. I quit watching them because I was nervous to do so.

The London bombings were made my invisibles ( an ethnic native of the target country) thus your presumtion that 12 middle east guys (a soccer team?) were a threat seems rather rascist. Also one must take into account the culture difference - the idea of close nitt friends is more common in the gulf than here.

Dayle Record said:
If there were going to be a weapon in one of our cities, it would be driven right into the heart as easily as that, they would intercept a shipment somewhere, and make it happen.

As could you are I - what is your point here? And do you not have the common sense to know that the US intel agencies watch movement of nuclear material and explosives like hawks - as do other intel agencies. Also, ship manifests are extensively checked, cargos can be checked on the spot and raids can occur - if you look above I suggest a nuclear bomb will not be transported as a whole entity - if you understood that it is clear why an attack would not occur straight from boat - ground vehicle - target.

Dayle Record said:
I think we have hurt a lot more people than we have helped with our policies, especially in more recent history. As hard as people work for the good, we still on the balance do a lot of harm.

Hindsight is always 20/20 - I do not think though you can say that allowing the Hussein regime (for example) to remain in power would have been a better option. However I do take the point, and support it that other aggressive strategies have not perhaps been the best possible course of action however the US is in a very dangerous position as the worlds only superpower and as such must be treated as a special case.

Dayle Record said:
The laws of physics are that balance will be achieved, by one means or another, and there is a physics of the personal accountability of nations. We have a very short term mentality in this nation, take now, take now, make bigger markets. Other nations do not forget, and practice a very long term planning, and remembrance strategy, I have never harmed anyone in my life, or discriminated, but my nation before I was born, committed acts that I may someday have to answer for, in the long term game.

Benjamin Disraeli said - "An eye for eye leaves the whole world blind." The US has a short term mentality - it has existed less that 400 years - it is hard for it to have a long term mentality! And I doubt your statements validity, India has reconcilled with Britain, the world has reconcilled Germany - I cannot see your point.

And SKYHUNTER you're right that view IS wrong - each terrorist has his own reason to commit those acts, be it the presence of troops in Saudi Arabia or the occupation of Iraq and eah complaint must be at least observed although one must always remember that to give in to terrrorists sends the wrong message and breads destruction

-NS

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Burnsys
I don't see how a rogue fascist general could make political gain from the murder of millions of citizens of his country.

tell me again, why did you captured saddam husein??

Okay - every year the US government go around the top universities ad take off the best programmers and encoders and use them to develop newn encoding techniques and cracking techniques, such is the development and overlay of skills that hacking a DOD is beyond even the greatest supercomputer currently in existance.

Let me express it very simply for you - we have (in this case) an crytographic arms race between the US gov.t (DOD) and the global community of terrorists and cryptographers.

The DOD has a multi-billion dollar budget per annum just for cryptography - the worlds terrorists and crypto guys dont have 10million between them to be spent on such efforts.

The DOD has the power to imprisson every terrorist crypto agent they deem a threat - the terrorists hav eno such ability.

And before I risk talking to you like you are a pre-school child i will stop there.
"between the US gov.t (DOD) and the global community of terrorists and cryptographers. "

Terrorist and cryptigraphers, i like that.. or you could say the us against the world..

"The DOD has the power to imprisson every terrorist crypto agent they deem a threat"

Nice,, prety facist police state....

So you are suggesting that the US gov't is voluntarily making itself more open to attacks on itself?! Think that through!

First are profits for corporations, next is security...

Also consider all fighter jets are made by contractors - do you have a problem there, or the fact most weapons are?!

You should not trust that much in private contractors, i wonder what could they do if the goverment decides it doen't need their services anymore..

That is still terrorism -I point you to wiki:

"Terrorism refers to the use of violence for the purpose of achieving a political, religious, or ideological goal. The targets of terrorist acts can be government officials, military personnel, people serving the interests of governments, or civilians."

You mean us invasion of irak??? it fits perfectly

As could you are I - what is your point here? And do you not have the common sense to know that the US intel agencies watch movement of nuclear material and explosives like hawks - as do other intel agencies. Also, ship manifests are extensively checked, cargos can be checked on the spot and raids can occur - if you look above I suggest a nuclear bomb will not be transported as a whole entity - if you understood that it is clear why an attack would not occur straight from boat - ground vehicle - target.

You trust too much in the intel agencies... do you remmber 911?

Hindsight is always 20/20 - I do not think though you can say that allowing the Hussein regime (for example) to remain in power would have been a better option.
Better option would habe been not to suport him in the first place.. the same for osama bin laden in afganistan i think

However I do take the point, and support it that other aggressive strategies have not perhaps been the best possible course of action
You are critizicing the methods, i critize the motives directly....

"An eye for eye leaves the whole world blind." The US has a short term mentality - it has existed less that 400 years - it is hard for it to have a long term mentality!
That is nonsense....

Each terrorist has his own reason to commit those acts, be it the presence of troops in Saudi Arabia or the occupation of Iraq

Tomorrow may be myself will be a terrorist, i have now 400 marines at steps of my country, with total inmunity, ready to secure gas fields in bolivia oil in venezuela, and north argentina, plus the bigest water reserve in the world, "Aquifero Guarani". Should i start training myself???

that to give in to terrrorists sends the wrong message and breads destruction

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Gold Member
There is a lot of speculation regarding logistics, etc., but not motive. The targets of 9-11 were primarily governmental/military (Pentagon & Whitehouse), and WTC was economically motivated. Now the focus is in Iraq against U.S. military. OBL and Al Qeada are accomplishing what they want--to bleed the U.S. of economic and military strength. Civilian targets, such as discussed in this thread (whether the A bomb or dirty bombs) would create a global backlash that would be counter-productive to what they desire. They want to be rid of the bullies on the block, the infidels/military bases on their soil/holy land, meddling with their governments/politics, the imposition of western values and religion upon them and in replacement of their own culture and beliefs.

The removal of settlements in the occupied regions, such as Gaza is a step in the right direction. This is now an issue that groups like Al Qeada can no longer use. The U.S. needs to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible. If the reasons for attacks are removed, there will be no excuse or sympathy for their cause.

It believe it was Ghandi who said; "An eye for eye leaves the whole world blind"

NewScientist