Terrorism for the most part is not mindless violence. Mass casualties do not serve the terrorists' goals and could alienate the population. Thus the detonation of a nuclear bomb or the deliberate dispersal of toxic nuclear material seem the least likely terrorist threats. However, terrorists might contemplate carrying out low-level nuclear incidents and hoaxes. The inconvenience and political repercussions will probably exceed the actual danger to public safety. At a far more gradual rate the possibilities of serious nuclear incidents may increase simply because the number of nuclear facilities will increase, and technical knowledge regarding nuclear devices will spread. Before then, however, more effective safeguards can be developed.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
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.