House Committee on Armed Services Nuclear Proliferation ... - IDIA
R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 1 Policy Dilemma In the wake of the attacks of 11 September 2001 on the United States, the threat of terrorism has become a major security concern. Nuclear terrorism is any act of terrorism involving nuclear weapons, radioactive material, or an attack against a nuclear power plant. 1 Were an act of nuclear terrorism to occur, it would have devastating effects. 2 The detonation of any amount of tactical nuclear material could kill millions of Americans. Dirty bombs, which are a combination of conventional explosives paired with nuclear waste, are one of the biggest nuclear threats to the U.S. 3 According to the Center for Defense Information, “In the United States, radioactive waste is located at more than 70 commercial nuclear power sites, in 31 states.” 4 In testimony provided by Paul Leventhal of the Nuclear Control Institute, although security measures have been upgraded since the September 11th attacks, U.S. power plants are not adequately protected against attack. 5 A nuclear terror scenario is plausible and the United States needs to defend itself from the threat of nuclear terrorism. The signing of nuclear non-proliferation treaties has resulted in the dismantling of the United State’s tactical nuclear weapons. The nuclear materials from tactical nuclear warheads are heavily guarded and the hazard of terrorists stealing the nuclear material is very small. However, the risk of terrorists stealing tactical nuclear material from foreign states is very high. States like North Korea or Pakistan that are in the elementary stages of their nuclear programs, which do not allow regular inspections and lacks high security measures would be ideal targets. 6 Radioactive waste is not as closely guarded as tactical 1 Wedekind, L, “IAEA plans Action to Combat Nuclear Terrorism,” International Atomic Energy Agency, April 2004. http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/PressReleases/2002/prn0204.shtml. (accessed October 20, 2008). 2 Medaila, Jonathan, “Nuclear Terrorism: A Brief Review of Threat and Responses,” Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2004. 3 Center for Defense Information, “What if Terrorists go Nuclear?” Center for Defense Information, October 1, 2001. http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/nuclear.cfm (accessed October 21. 2008). 4 Ibid. 5 Leventhal, Paul, “Nuclear Power Reactors are inadequately protected against terrorist attack, A Review of Security Issues at Nuclear Power Plants.
waste. 7 If the United States does not adequately prepare and stop the threat of nuclear R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 2 nuclear material and Russia is notorious for its poor security regarding radioactive terrorism, the country may face fatal repercussions. According to a report by Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom “a ten kiloton weapon (two-thirds the yield of the Hiroshima bomb) detonated at Grand Central Station in Manhattan would kill over a half-million people immediately with hundreds of thousands injured”. 8 A dirty bomb detonation would spew deadly radioactive material into the environment and an attack on a nuclear power plant can turn an area into a nuclear wasteland and kill Americans. 9 In order to stop these scenarios from happening, many have offered solutions to the evergrowing threat. As the threat has become increasingly apparent, many in government have called for preventative measures against nuclear terrorism. Some have pointed to the lack port security as a weakness in American defenses against nuclear terrorism, advocating increased screening and documentation. Others argue that the true source of the nuclear threat is in foreign territories and that offense action abroad is the only practical solution. Advocates of force point out that U.S. Special Operations Forces can covertly insert into high-risk areas to disable or relocate nuclear arms. 10 Another controversial measure is the suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits military forces from participating in federal law enforcement operations. Proponents of this solution point out that nuclear terrorism is a multinational issue, best suited to a force with multinational capabilities. 11 The United States needs to find a solution soon in order to deter nuclear terrorism. 7 Center for Defense Information, “What if Terrorists go Nuclear?” Center for Defense Information, October 1, 2001. http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/nuclear.cfm (accessed October 21. 2008). 8 Medaila, Jonathan, “Nuclear Terrorism: A Brief Review of Threat and Responses,” Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2004. 9 Center for Defense Information, “What if Terrorists go Nuclear?” Center for Defense Information, October 1, 2001. http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/nuclear.cfm (accessed October 21. 2008). 10 Ibid. 11 Brinkerhoff, John R, “The Posse Comitatus Act and Homeland Security,” Homeland Security, February 2002. http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/brinkerhoffpossecomitatus.htm (accessed October 21. 2008).