Plausibility of terrorists having a suitcase nuclear fission device term paper examples

Description and type of device.

– Impact of the device.

Origin of the device.

– Detailed Plausibility of Terrorists Acquiring the Mini Nuke.

Stealing or buying the mini nukes

Assistance by a state:
Building a mini-nuke of one’s own:
– Conclusion.


Terrorists are people who engage in terrorism, the organized use of terror, often forceful, especially as a means of intimidation or coercion. These violent deeds are perpetrated for religious, political or ideological reasons. Terrorists range from criminal, pathological, regime, left-wing, right-wing, state sponsored to quasi terrorists. Their motivation differs from the state and the need to be solitary, all depending on the type of terrorist. Some functions in groups and are sponsored by the state, whereas some are self-sponsored and perform singly. Terrorists used distinct tactics depending on the conflict at hand. These conflicts range from ethnicity with reference to dominating of territories, annoyance or unsuitability of a form of governance, economic dispossession of a population, opposition to a particular government or state force to religion. Established terrorists use particular tactics to execute their demands. Major tactics put into action over the years are bombings, suicide attacks, rocket attacks, mortar attacks, hijackings, nuclear weapons, chemical and organic armaments. Over the years, come have used nuclear fission weapons, weapons whose explosive power is drawn from fission in the nucleus of an atom.


With recent developments, terrorists have learned the use of a better, easier to execute tactics, that is, the use of suitcase nuclear fission devices. The deviation from the traditional methods has been necessitated by the advancement in technology. The other avenues utilized by terrorists are easier to find out and neutralize. Additionally, terrorists strive to have a maximum impact on their targets. In this case, this implies the maximum number of deaths in their attacks. The main objective of this term paper is to ascertain the plausibility of terrorists having these suitcase nuclear fission devices. A suitcase nuclear fission device is a tactical nuclear device that is miniaturized to make it easily portable. Some can fit into a suitcase without causing any unnecessary attention, hence the name. These miniaturized weapons are expensive to develop, and only the most powerful countries are able to program and develop them. An example of these suitcase nuclear fission devices is a mini nuke. This paper will aim at demystifying the mini nuke.


Description and Type of Device.
The mini nuke is a football sized tactical suitcase nuclear fission device designed to be used with a nuclear catapult weapon. They are the most expensive type of ammunition at the moment. They are the strongest devices, making a greater impact than any other nuclear device. They however, have to be launched from a catapult, due to their weight. These devices are portable, weighing up to a hundred pounds. Unlike the long range missiles, these ammunition area self-activated, hence do not need to a central control point.
Impact of the device: One of these nuclear bombs has an explosive charge of over one kiloton. If launched, it would destroy all within a radius of half a mile. The radioactive energy emitted in the form of iodine would be blown by the wind miles farther, increasing the effect of just one blast of this suitcase nuclear weapon. The mini nuke is therefore, a weapon of mass destruction, which brings hazardous destruction to not only human beings, but also to other forms of life and the biosphere as a whole. Their effect can also lead to destruction of natural features such as mountains as well as the destruction of man-made structures, including buildings. Capitol Hill, Moscow as well as London can be wiped out by this device. This is evidence that this type of suitcase nuclear fission device would cause tremendous loss of life and destruction to property. Deaths would also be as a result of conventional explosion or radiation poisoning. Unlike what has been witnessed in earlier years such as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attack, this device would lead to massive radioactive contamination. The occurrence of this would lead to a very great change on how states have perceived terrorists. Within the first one hour after the explosion, radiation would be up to 90%.

Origin of the Device.

This device has only been manufactured by the Americans and the Russians. The Russians manufactured this nuclear arsenal in the sixties, seventies and eighties. America manufactured their version in the 1960s. It was designed for sabotage or interference missions in dams and fields. It was given the name Special Atomic Demolition Munitions. The first of these devices were expensive to maintain and use in practical sessions. They had to be carried in trucks that were four feet by almost three feet and weighing over eight hundred pounds. In the 1970s, these trail dimensions reduced to two feet by two feet and weighs over three hundred and twenty pounds. In the 1980s, the US and Russian specialists made further improvements on the device, reducing its size to twenty-four by sixteen by eight inches and weighing less than sixty pounds. The existence of this device was made known to the public in the year 1997.

Detailed Plausibility of Terrorists Acquiring the Mini Nuke.

The device has only been manufactured in America and Russia, many years ago. Currently, there is no probability that any of the two states would manufacture the device. The Americans destroyed their suitcase size weapons. However, the Russians did not. One hundred and thirty two had been manufactured, but in the year 1998, one hundred and eighty four of these dangerous ammunitions disappeared. Only forty-eight of them could be found. Currently, Russia is working on destroying the ammunition whose where about are known. The big question remains. Where are the rest of the ammunitions? Do they exist? Who possesses them? Having proper knowledge of the destruction this weapon would lead to, the number one priority of America and Russia would be to account most accurately the whereabouts of more than one hundred such weapons that disappeared from the Soviet Union. These two states are the first and most effective deterrents of terrorists from acquiring these destructive devices. In the wrong hands, these small devices could cause unimaginable havoc. Interception of suitcase nuclear devices is not an easy task on land. The unimaginable danger of terrorists getting hold of the device is possible.
Stealing or buying the mini nukes
Detonating the device would, however, be a difficult task to the terrorists since arming the mini nukes takes up to half an hour. More so, only trained personnel can arm the device. If improperly opened, the weapon would automatically self-destruct in accordance with its design. The only way out for the terrorists would be managing to buy one of Russia’s nuclear specialists, which would be costly. In 1996, Mafias are alleged to have purchased a shipment of this suitcase nuclear weapon from KGB officials. Bin Laden, a renowned terrorist paid thirty million dollars in cash and two tons of heroin for the same. This is a total of around seven hundred million dollars. Many terrorists are getting information on these deadly weapons. Hence this has become an issue of international concern. Some terrorists have also been found to disguise themselves as reporters to gather information about this device, especially in the Soviet Union. According to Allison (2004), warnings about small groups smuggling units of the device in New York have been uttered.
It is evident that the increased proliferation of easily portable devices has added up to the terrorists’ arsenal, a fact that has become a global concern. This is in line with John McPhee (1974) who said that, for those taking part in the development of these nuclear weapons, it becomes possible day by day the thought of experiencing great nuclear attacks (p. 3). Nuclear terrorists would be faced with the challenge of developing nuclear weapons. This is because making this device is an extraordinarily difficult task. So far, no terrorist group has shown any signs of overcoming this. Zimmerman (2006) found that it would be extremely cumbersome for terrorists to steal or procure this device (p. 61). According to Langewiesche (2007), any mini nukes stolen from the Soviet Union would not be functional at the moment due to the high cost needed for continual maintenance (p. 19).
Assistance by a state:
Nuclear weapons have been in use over half a decade now. Never has any state given any of its allies, let alone terrorists, any of its nuclear possessions for whichever reason. According to Langewiesche (2007), doing so would be extremely risky since the donor of the nuclear weapon would be discovered (p. 20). For example, according to Oberdorfer (2005), during the Cold War, North Korea tried to obtain nuclear armaments from its handy ally, China, and was firmly denied. This shows that no state would collude with terrorists by serving as a source of nuclear ammunition, including the suitcase nukes.
Building a mini-nuke of one’s own:
It is implausible to buy or steal a useable mini nuke. According to Kamp (1996), a dedicated terrorist group would opt to use uranium instead of plutonium, which is difficult to transport (p. 33). This would be an almost impossible task since procuring the required fissile material is no easy task for a stateless group. Furthermore, according to Cameron (2004) it would require enormous industrial efforts to manufacture the mini nuke (p. 83). “ If bombers were somehow prosperous at obtaining a perilous mass of appropriate material, they would need to transport it under unfamiliar circumstances.” (Langewiesche, 2007, 48).
According to Langewiesche (2007), passing global boundaries would be expedited by using established trafficking means and, for a considerable fee, drug addicts, for example, might provide proficient, and probably even steadfast, backing. The means are not as muddled as they seem and are regularly under the surveillance of a handful of illegal, disbelieving and vigilant supervisors. If they suspect the product being trafficked, some disrupt passage, possibly to amass the abundant incentive money probable to be presented by informed governance once the uranium robbery had been revealed (p. 54). Once they have succeded, the bombers erect a huge and well-resourced production store to construct a mini nuke and build it with a very specialised group of greatly trained researchers, operators, and mechanics. They assemble and retain them for the assignment whereas no substantial qualms are created among associates, family, and forces concerning their probing and abrupt absenteeism from regular searches at their homes. The impracticality of this stances a key delinquencee to the manufacture of the weapon.

Conclusion and Summary

Being a matter of international security, no state would take lightly the issue of terrorism. This paper explains in depth whether terrorists would be able to secure suitcase nuclear fission devices, and if so, how. It is manifested above that there are three major ways in which extremists acquire nuclear weapons. The first two, stealing the device or getting assistance from a state are almost impossible due to the tight security measures upheld, as well as the nature of these devices. The most fruitful option for the terrorists would be constructing the device, a task that is not easy for many reasons including the inadequacy of the element uranium that is used in the construction, area used must be entered while avoiding detection by the local police or residents; difficulty of getting a specialized construction team as well as difficulty in controlling advertent leaks from the team among others.


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