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Nuclear Attacks

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May 26, 2016 by wimvincken

Nuclear weapons are not nice; they’re dangerous and limited .., and it’s getting out of control. This article is not about facts or references, but simple observations and logical conclusions. During the cold war, the nuclear threat was always hanging over everyone’s head, wherever you live in the world. Now the so called cold war is over and we go into something else, which makes the cold war children’s play. By allowing the blunder throughout the world and allowing the resulting backslash to continue, the risk of a nuclear attack has dramatically increased and is very likely to increase even more. And with a nuclear attack we don’t talk about nuclear attack with atomic weapons, but also attacks on nuclear installations and the so called ‘dirty bombs’. During the cold war, there was always a certain matter of control. In these times with the multiple nuclear threats that control is not there. To allow a rogue state having nuclear weapons and to allow it to keep it and to make threats is uncalled for.

Compare Nuclear Explosions

Hiroshima-size detonation (15 kT) compared to the largest U.S. nuclear weapon tested (15,000 kT)

  1. A country can use nuclear weapons only one time … before it’s destroyed.
  2. Having nuclear weapons is a deterrent … as long as you have it … but not against organizations and rogue states.
  3. Having nuclear energy in a country is becoming a serious security risk for its population.
Nuclear Weapons Info-graphic by sheikhrouf23

Nuclear Weapons Info-graphic by sheikhrouf23

The time that a country like the US, China or Russia were keeping nuclear weapons as a deterrent against a nuclear attack is rapidly changing into a purgatory for everyone. Why?

  1. There is an increased threat from organizations, which uses commando-like ground-based attacks on equipment which if disabled could lead to a reactor core meltdown or widespread dispersal of radioactivity; and external attacks such as an aircraft crash into a reactor complex, or cyber attacks.
  2. The other threat is that certain countries are bullying other states with nuclear weapons in their rhetoric. An example is Russia and the dramatic rhetoric of its President Putin. This could easily escalate, just like an ordinary brawl in a bar.
  3. Another rising threat is a rogue state like North Korea, which is ignoring the International community and develop and test nuclear weapons and the delivery vehicles (ballistic missiles) and threaten everyone in the region and beyond.
  4. Another rising threat are countries, which want to possess nuclear weapons and are developing them as well, and is aggressively threatening everyone in the region and beyond, like Iran.
  5. Another rising threat are countries, which already possess nuclear weapons, are exporting and/or selling nuclear weapons to other countries (like China to Pakistan, China, Russia and North Korea to Iran).
  6. Another threat are cyber attacks against countries, which already posses nuclear weapons. The seriousness of such threat is not the attack itself to destroy, but to encapsulate itself in their computer systems and operates like a backdoor (unknowingly) with stealth, and constantly having access to everything the nuclear power posses and develops. Examples are Russia and China towards the US and various European countries.
  7. Another serious threat is international politics. With a dramatic, fundamental change in foreign politics by the US, producing political and military power-vacuums, many organizations (like ISIS) and states (like Russia and China) interpret this as a weakness and are more then willingly to fill the gaps left behind by the Americans.
  8. Another threat is the incompetency of (political) leaders like the American President Obama, who allows rogue states to develop, build and test nuclear weapons, and who allows extreme states like Iran to be bullied into a faulty nuclear agreement, while in secret Iran seems already to have nuclear weapons and succeeded to test them multiple times.

Current Nuclear Attacks

The current issue of the nuclear threats are not only the nuclear weapons, but the nuclear installations as well, because they are considered as attractive targets for organizations, like ISIS and rogue states. And talking about the word ‘threat’, which indicates of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done, what follows here are actual deeds, no threats.

Attacks on nuclear installations

Nuclear power plant in Tihange

Nuclear power plant in Tihange, Belgium

Terrorists could target nuclear power plants in an attempt to release radioactive contamination into the community. The United States 9/11 Commission has said that nuclear power plants were potential targets originally considered for the September 11, 2001 attacks. If terrorist groups could sufficiently damage safety systems to cause a core meltdown at a nuclear power plant, and/or sufficiently damage spent fuel pools, such an attack could lead to a widespread radioactive contamination. According to a 2004 report by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, “The human, environmental, and economic costs from a successful attack on a nuclear power plant that results in the release of substantial quantities of radioactive material to the environment could be great.” An attack on a reactor’s spent fuel pool could also be serious, as these pools are less protected than the reactor core. The release of radioactivity could lead to thousands of near-term deaths and greater numbers of long-term fatalities.

Military Attacks

Nuclear reactors become preferred targets during military conflict and, over the past three decades, have been repeatedly attacked during military air strikes, occupations, invasions and campaigns:

  • In September 1980, Iran bombed the Al Tuwaitha nuclear complex in Iraq, in Operation Scorch Sword, which was a surprise IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) airstrike carried out on 30 September 1980, that damaged an almost complete nuclear reactor 17 km south-east of Baghdad, Iraq.
  • In June 1981, an Israeli air strike completely destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear research facility.
  • Between 1984 and 1987, Iraq bombed Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant six times.
  • In 1991, the U.S. bombed three nuclear reactors and an enrichment pilot facility in Iraq.
  • In 1991, Iraq launched Scud missiles at Israel’s Dimona nuclear power plant.
  • In September 2007, Israel bombed a Syrian reactor under construction.

After several incidents in Pakistan in which terrorists attacked three of its military nuclear facilities, it became clear that there emerged a serious danger that they would gain access to the country’s nuclear arsenal, according to a journal published by the US Military Academy at West Point. In January 2010, it was revealed that the US army was training a specialized unit “to seal off and snatch back” Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants would obtain a nuclear device or materials that could make one.

Nuclear terrorism

The IAEA Illicit Nuclear Trafficking Database notes 1,266 incidents reported by 99 countries over the last 12 years, including 18 incidents involving HEU (Highly enriched uranium) or plutonium trafficking:

  • There have been 18 incidences of theft or loss of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium confirmed by the IAEA.
  • Security specialist Professor Shaun Gregory argued in an article that terrorists have attacked Pakistani nuclear facilities three times in the recent past; twice in 2007 and once in 2008.
  • In November 2007, burglars with unknown intentions infiltrated the Pelindaba nuclear research facility near Pretoria, South Africa. The burglars escaped without acquiring any of the uranium held at the facility.
  • In June 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released to the press the name of Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah, allegedly the operations leader for developing tactical plans for detonating nuclear bombs in several American cities simultaneously.
  • In November 2006, MI5 warned that al-Qaida were planning on using nuclear weapons against cities in the United Kingdom by obtaining the bombs via clandestine means.
  • In February 2006, Oleg Khinsagov of Russia was arrested in Georgia, along with three Georgian accomplices, with 79.5 grams of 89 percent enriched HEU.
  • The Alexander Litvinenko poisoning with radioactive polonium “represents an ominous landmark: the beginning of an era of nuclear terrorism,” according to Andrew J. Patterson.
  • In June 2002, U.S. citizen José Padilla was arrested for allegedly planning a radiological attack on the city of Chicago; however, he was never charged with such conduct. He was instead convicted of charges that he conspired to “murder, kidnap and maim” people overseas.

Cyber Attacks

Stuxnet is a computer worm discovered in June 2010 that is believed to have been created by the United States and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. It switched off safety devices, causing centrifuges to spin out of control. Stuxnet initially spreads via Microsoft Windows, and targets Siemens industrial control systems. While it is not the first time that hackers have targeted industrial systems, it is the first discovered malware that spies on and subverts industrial systems.

Different variants of Stuxnet targeted five Iranian organizations, with the probable target widely suspected to be uranium enrichment infrastructure in Iran; Symantec noted in August 2010 that 60% of the infected computers worldwide were in Iran. Siemens stated that the worm has not caused any damage to its customers, but the Iran nuclear program, which uses embargoed Siemens equipment procured secretly, has been damaged by Stuxnet.

Idaho National Laboratory ran the Aurora Experiment in 2007 to demonstrate how a cyber attack could destroy physical components of the electric grid. The experiment used a computer program to rapidly open and close a diesel generator’s circuit breakers out of phase from the rest of the grid and explode. This vulnerability is referred to as the Aurora Vulnerability.

The number and sophistication of cyber attacks is on the rise. The computers of South Korea’s nuclear plant operator (KHNP) were hacked in December 2014. The cyber attacks involved thousands of phishing emails containing malicious codes, and information was stolen.

International politics

With a dramatic, fundamental change in American foreign politics, producing political and military power-vacuums, many organizations (like ISIS) and states (like Russia and China) interpret this as a weakness and are more then willingly to fill the gaps left behind by the Americans.

  • The chronological order defined by simple facts, starting with the hastily retreat of the American troops in Iraq (ordered by President Obama), insurgents flooded Iraq and ISIS started its destructive rampage through Iraq and Syria.
  • The breach of Obama’s so called ‘red line’ (by using chemical weapons by the regime of Assad of Syria), caused a political and diplomatic backslash and loss of American reputation, initiating aggressive pursue of filling in the vacuum left behind by Russia and China.
  • The incompetence and ignorance during the negotiations towards a nuclear agreement with Iran caused even more damage, pushing the Middle East into a new weapon race and allowing an extreme state like Iran to have nuclear weapons (which they already have!).
  • Because of the aggressive pursue of filling in the vacuum left behind, Russia attacked Ukraine and indirectly started a weapon race between the US, NATO and Russia. The same with China, who’s trying to dominate and bully other islands and states, which forces the US to sharply increase military spending to hold their position before they will loose it.
  • Because of the hastily retreat of the American troops in Iraq, the loss of the American reputation in Syria, the foulups made in Libya, the inept campaign to fight the ISIS, the American President is indirectly responsible for the misery of millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands of death, sharply increased terror around the world and billions of dollars in damage and trillions of dollars of lost opportunities and tax payers money.
  • The hastily adopted military and foreign policy of developing and implementing rocket shields is an attempt against the impossible, misleading the general public and trying to give them a false sense of security and safety, and it upsets the strategical balance throughout the world and Russia and only increases the tensions and the risk of a World War 3.
    • A shield against rockets is nice, and it might work against a few rockets with nuclear weapons, but it’s simply statistics. Those systems will not protect against a massive nuclear attack of hundreds, or even thousands of nuclear rockets.

Finally

During the cold war, the nuclear threat was always hanging over everyone’s head, wherever you live in the world. Now the so called cold war is over and we go into something else, which makes the cold war children’s play.

By allowing the blunder throughout the world and allowing the resulting backslash to continue, the risk of a nuclear attack has dramatically increased and is very likely to increase even more. And with a nuclear attack we don’t talk about nuclear attack with atomic weapons, but also attacks on nuclear installations and the so called ‘dirty bombs’.

During the cold war, there was always a certain matter of control. In these times with the multiple nuclear threats that control is not there. To allow a rogue state having nuclear weapons and to allow it to keep it and to make threats is uncalled for.

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