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This study's primary concern is terrorist attacks against U.S. nuclear weapons systems in the United States or abroad. It first analyzes the motivations that might inspire various acts of nuclear terrorism. It then reviews the altered contexts that might affect terrorists' decisions to "go nuclear." Among these are the growing number of weapons warheads, increasing stocks of plutonium, the emergence of state-sponsored terrorism, and the escalation in terrorist attacks on indiscriminate targets. Although the authors believe that serious acts of nuclear terrorism remain unlikely, certain configurations of groups and situations seem more threatening than others.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.