On the Issue of Nuclear Terrorism

12 March 2014
Paper

It is time for a closer look at the self-serving claim by nuclear weapons states that one of the greatest dangers is that of nuclear weapons being built or falling into the hands of ‘terrorist groups’.

Four years ago in 2010, at the last nuclear summit of 47 countries in New York, President Barack Obama waxed eloquent on the extreme danger of fissile materials falling into the hands of groups like Al Qaeda which would then make and use a nuclear bomb. The then Prime Minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh among others who had attended dutifully applauded this view of the dangers of non-state nuclear terrorism seeking only to put his own spin on the matter by indirectly pointing the finger at Pakistan as a collaborating culprit in this respect.

Given that the very nature of nuclear weapons discourse by nuclear weapons states (NWSs) is unavoidably hypocritical and dishonest, is it not time for a closer look at the apparently self-evident, and certainly self-serving (to NWSs) claim that one of the great dangers today and tomorrow -- if not the great danger -- is that of nuclear weapons being built or falling into the hands of ‘terrorist groups’? One of the purposes and effects of this self-serving talk of nuclear terrorism, and hence its popularity and frequency, is that it legitimizes and excuses the NWSs themselves.

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