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

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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?

Astronuc
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.

Skyhunter
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

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

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

I agree, I think perhaps we should...

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.

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...

vanesch
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:

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:

BobG
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.

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.

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

Pengwuino
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.

Pengwuino
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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vanesch
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" ?

Pengwuino
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:

loseyourname
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.

vanesch
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 :-)

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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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] Fox so it must be true.

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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:

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] Fox so it must be true.

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

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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