Harvard researcher Matthew Bunn claims the Islamic State may engage in three different kinds of nuclear or radiological terrorism in the near future, according to the Express.
Bunn warns IS may attack a nuclear facility and blow it up, explode a “dirty bomb,” or somehow develop a nuclear bomb and detonate it.
“Making a crude nuclear bomb would not be easy, but is potentially within the capabilities of a technically sophisticated terrorist group, as numerous government studies have confirmed,” the report states.
The release of Bunn’s Managing the Atom report coincides with the Nuclear Security Summit 2016 to be held today in Washington.
“We cannot afford to wait for an act of nuclear terrorism before working together to collectively improve our nuclear security culture, share our best practices, and raise our standards for nuclear security,” explains the NSS website.
Government studies and Bunn’s research do not take into account a number of problems standing in the way of an Islamic State bomb, most notably the unavailability of the fissile material required. The common explanation is the material will be taken from Russia’s inventory of decommissioned warheads.
“If that were easy, one would have already gone missing,” writes Steve Chapman. “Besides, those devices are probably no longer a danger, since weapons that are not scrupulously maintained (as those have not been) quickly become what one expert calls ‘radioactive scrap metal.’ If terrorists were able to steal a Pakistani bomb, they would still have to defeat the arming codes and other safeguards designed to prevent unauthorized use.”
But even if terrorists managed to get their hands on fissile material or produced their own with centrifuges—the relatively modern state of Iran has reportedly experienced major issues doing this—building a functioning bomb is “not something you can gin up with spare parts and power tools in your garage.” It requires people with specialized skills and a safe haven for equipment.