When Belgian police searched the home of a suspected Islamic State member after the Paris terror attacks in November, they found a surveillance recording of a researcher at a Belgian nuclear center.

nuclearIt was thought to be part of a plot to capture nuclear materials from the center.

The episode reported by the Washington Post in March envisioned the worst security nightmare for mankind — nuclear materials, some 1,800 metric tons of weapon-grade ones stored in hundreds of facilities, fall into the hands of terrorists.

However, it is observed that the current global nuclear security architecture is not prepared for such a scenario. For that, experts suggested ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit due in Washington at the end of the month, that a peaceful world, free of terrorism, be one of the ultimate cures to nuclear terrorism.


There has been clear evidence that terrorist organizations are interested in nuclear weapons.

Robert Gallucci, a professor of Georgetown University based in Washington, said terrorists seek to inflict maximum damage with an economy of means. Nothing more than a nuclear weapon can accomplish this end more effectively.

The current situation is quite severe as huge amounts of nuclear materials might be susceptible, said Zhu Xuhui, a senior Chinese nuclear expert.

Terrorists could launch cyber-attacks against nuclear power plants, which could be hard to predict and prevent, he said.

Page Stoutland, vice president of scientific and technical affairs at Nuclear Threats Initiative, a U.S. NGO, also highlighted cyber-attacks, a new form of terrorism. The hidden danger partly lies in the potential for cyber-attacks aimed to steal materials and sabotage nuclear facilities, he said.

Calling nuclear terrorism today’s biggest threat, Ma Xiaolin, CEO of Bolianshe, a real-name blog website, and an expert on Middle East affairs, said terrorists could use nuclear materials to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

There has been an increasing demand for WMD among terrorists, said Mei Jianming, dean of the School of Anti-terrorism Research Center at Chinese People’s Public Security University.

Terrorists will not hesitate to use either nuclear materials or WMD to launch attacks, Mei said.


As is observed, the threat of nuclear terrorism is not just possible, if effective measures are not taken, it is probable.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is taking part in this year’s Nuclear Security Summit, called for addressing the root causes of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation, in his speech at the third summit in The Hague.

“We need to foster a peaceful and stable international environment, encourage harmonious and friendly relations between countries, and conduct exchanges among different civilizations in an amicable and open-minded manner,” he elaborated.

On the root cause of a rise in global terrorism in recent years, Ma pointed at interventionism and power politics of a few Western countries in the Middle East.

Therefore, to safeguard nuclear security, the counties should, first of all, halt their policy of intervention in the third world, which has given birth to terrorism hotbeds.

Mei, the dean, said that in combatting nuclear terrorism, a major global concern, countries should abandon power politics and double standards, urging countries to place global security over self interests.

Meanwhile, the experts pointed out that, as a near-term task, a more inclusive and multilateral nuclear security regime should be fostered based on harmonious and friendly relations between countries.

“If terrorists find the international nuclear security regime vulnerable, they are more likely to steal nuclear materials,” Mei said.

The experts envisioned an ideal regime as a robust system compatible with international standards, guided by good practices and aimed at realizing common interests to which all countries can contribute and from which they all can acquire assistance.

“All countries need to play a role. Leading countries in terms of nuclear programs, including China, Russia and the United States, have particularly important roles. However, countries without nuclear materials or facilities need to make sure their land is not used as a staging ground where terrorists can operate,” Stoutland said.

Source: Xinhua


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