---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: S G Naravane
From: S G Naravane
Jul 4th 2016, 11:00
Three scenarios illustrate the threat of a nuclear device in rogue hands
To SEE a nuclear horror story unfold, look no further than YouTube. In "My Nuclear Nightmare", a five-minute graphic film, Bill Perry, a former American defence secretary, describes how a breakaway faction of a rogue state's security forces enriches 40 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium in a secret facility and then constructs what appears to be a crude bomb, similar in design and yield to the kind that obliterated Hiroshima. It then transports the bomb in a box labelled "agricultural equipment" by civilian cargo aircraft to Dubai and on to Washington, DC. It is soon loaded onto a delivery truck and driven to Pennsylvania Avenue, where it is detonated at the halfway point between the White House and the Capitol building.
What follows is excruciating. More than 80,000 people are instantly killed, including the president, the vice-president and every member of Congress present. Another 100,000 are severely injured. Phones are down. A little later, it gets even worse: TV news stations have received a message that there are five more such bombs hidden in five more American cities. One bomb will be triggered each week unless all American troops serving abroad are immediately sent home. Panic ensues as people stream out of cities, and with the administration wiped out by the blast there is a constitutional crisis. Martial law is declared as looting and rioting spread; military detention centres spring up across the country.
A scenario of a different kind may have been among the dangers depicted in a video shown to world leaders at Mr Obama's nuclear-security summit in April. Pakistan has long been a concern because it has at least 100 nuclear warheads (and is producing more at a fair clip) while at the same time being a crucible of jihadist terrorism. Mark Fitzpatrick, a nuclear-proliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies who has spent time with the Pakistani nuclear authorities, notes that there have been no thefts, seizures or accidents involving Pakistan's fissile material. But there is still good reason to be fearful. IS has boasted in its online magazine, Dabiq, that it could purchase a weapon from corrupt officials in Pakistan.
In the past few years Pakistan has developed a number of short-range battlefield nuclear weapons as a counter to India's growing conventional military superiority. These weapons are destabilising at best because of their proximity to the frontline of any conflict and the pressure to "use them or lose them". But they suffer from another defect: at times of crisis they would be dispersed and put under the command of relatively junior officers.
There are intelligence reports of "mated" nuclear weapons (devices with all their component parts) being driven around Islamabad in unprotected civilian vans. According to some estimates, up to 40% of Pakistan's middle-ranking army officers are to some extent radicalised. The possibility of rogue elements, with knowledge of where small nukes were to be deployed, working with a terrorist group is real enough, as is a jihadist attack on a base where such weapons are kept. Supposedly the enabling and authenticating codes that arm the weapons are in the hands of the civilian-led National Command Authority, but in reality it is the army that keeps them.
What if a jihadist group obtained an armed battlefield missile with the intention of triggering a nuclear exchange with India? About 20m people would be killed directly, but the massive firestorms would send up to 5m tonnes of smoke into the stratosphere, leading to a "nuclear winter" in which crops around the world failed and hundreds of millions died of starvation. The thing about nuclear nightmares is that they come in all shapes and sizes.
sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity