Congressional Briefing - September 9, 2008

Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?

nuclear blast


Brian Jenkins


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.


2325 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

About the Program

Brian Michael Jenkins, one of the world’s leading authorities on political violence and sophisticated crime, will discuss his new book, “Will Terrorists Go Nuclear.” For more than thirty years, he has been advising the military, government, and think tanks on the dangers of escalating terrorism.

Jenkins goes beyond what the experts know about terrorists’ efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, nuclear black markets, “suitcase bombs,” and mysterious substances like red mercury to examine how terrorists themselves think about such weapons. How likely is it that terrorists will develop the capability of another large-scale attack?

America is uniquely susceptible to nuclear terror. Beneath our characteristic national optimism lies a lot of anxiety:

  • How does nuclear terror differ from nuclear terrorism?
  • What makes America so vulnerable to nuclear terror?
  • Will terrorists go nuclear — is there a consensus?
  • Is there a nuclear black market and how does it work?
  • Is al Qaeda the world's first terrorist nuclear power, even without a nuclear weapon?
  • How would the United States respond to a terrorist nuclear attack?

In the past, these anxieties were underscored by Cold War apprehensions, now they reflect 9/11 nightmares. Jenkins finds that security is necessary, but it is not an antidote to terror. Reducing needless terror will require replacing a corrosive message of fear with an inspirational message of courage.

About the Speaker

Brian Jenkins

Brian Jenkins, senior advisor to the president of RAND works with international organizations and multinational corporations as a top-level troubleshooter, strategist, and crisis manager. From 1989 to 1998, Mr. Jenkins was the Deputy Chairman of Kroll Associates, an international investigative and consulting firm. Before that, he was Chairman of RAND’s Political Science Department where, since 1972, he also directed RAND’s research on political violence.

A former Captain in the elite Green Berets, Mr. Jenkins served in the Dominican Republic during the American intervention, and later in Vietnam (1966-1970). Mr. Jenkins is the author of International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict, the editor and co-author of Terrorism and Personal Protection, co-editor and co-author of Aviation Terrorism and Security, and a co-author of The Fall of South Vietnam. In 1996, President Clinton appointed Mr. Jenkins to be a member of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Mr. Jenkins is also a Special Advisor to the International Chamber of Commerce.

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

For 60 years, RAND has provided policymakers with independent, objective research and analysis on key national security, domestic and international issues. RAND work helps members of Congress and their staffs make better-informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. The Office of Congressional Relations offers a number of products and services to educate, inform, and facilitate congressional policymakers' access to RAND work, including coordinating congressional testimony by RAND experts, organizing briefings and meetings, synthesizing RAND work into topical e-newsletters and providing reports and publications to congressional offices. For more information, visit the Office of Congressional Relations webpage, contact or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.