[Nuclear Control Institute, “Nuclear Terrorism --- How To Prevent It” 2003 http://www.nci.org/nuketerror.htm]
Although generally better secured than nuclear materials, there is still a possibility that nuclear weapons could be stolen by terrorists. In 1986, the NCI\SUNY International Task Force on the Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism raised concerns about the vulnerability of tactical nuclear weapons to theft. Since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and Russia have removed nearly all their tactical nuclear weapons from overseas deployment. However, there has been continued speculation that some number of Soviet "suitcase bombs" (small portable nuclear weapons) remain unaccounted for, with unconfirmed reports that they have been obtained by al Qaeda. Also, security weaknesses have been identified at nuclear weapons laboratories and other installations in both Russia and the United States. Further, the security of India and Pakistans embryonic nuclear arsenals is uncertain, as is the question of whether weapons in these states are secured by Permissive Action Link (PAL) systems (coded, electronic locks). In the United States, the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) is a highly secretive federal inter-agency group that has had the responsibility for more than 20 years for locating and deactivating terrorist nuclear weapons, but its technical ability to fulfill this daunting mission if the need arose remains uncertain.
Terrorism Goes Nuclear: it’s the biggest risk to U.S. security
Helfand Et al 02
[British Medical Journal- Ira Helfand, chief, emergency medicine section , Lachlan Forrow, associate professor of medicine , Jaya Tiwari, research director, “Nuclear Terrorism” 2/9/02, http://www.nci.org/02NCI/03/bmj_356.htm]
There is clear evidence that some terrorist groups have been trying to obtain nuclear materials, primarily from the enormous stockpiles of the former Soviet Union. In December 1994 Czech police seized 4 kg of highly enriched uranium. During that same year German police seized more than 400 g of plutonium.6 In October 2001 Turkish police arrested two men with 1.16 kg of weapons grade uranium.7 Also in October 2001 the Russian Defence Ministry reported two recent incidents when terrorist groups attempted to break into Russian nuclear storage sties but were repulsed.8 Since 1993 the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported 175 cases of nuclear trafficking, 18 involving highly enriched uranium or plutonium.9 Even more alarming are reports that small fully built nuclear weapons are missing from the Russian arsenal. In 1996 the Russian general Alexander Lebed claimed that 40 of these so called suitcase weapons were unaccounted for. He subsequently retracted the claim but in a manner that failed to reassure many experts.8 Even before the attack on the World Trade Center, the threat of nuclear terrorism was well recognised by the US Department of Energy, which warned: "The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons useable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home."10The efforts of the al-Qaeda network to obtain nuclear weapons or weapons grade nuclear materials are particularly worrying. Al-Qaeda agents have tried to buy uranium from South Africa, and have made repeated trips to three central Asian states to try to buy weapons grade material or complete nuclear weapons.9 Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, a leading Pakistani nuclear engineer, made repeated visits to the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar between 1998 and 2001, leading the Pakistan government to place him and two other nuclear scientists under house arrest.11More recently there have been speculative reports that al-Qaeda has purchased 20 of the Russian suitcase weapons from Chechen sources for a reported $30m plus two tonnes of opium.11 In addition, Russian nuclear experts have raised concerns that terrorists could gain control of a Russian nuclear missile facility and initiate an attack against the United States using strategic nuclear missiles (B Blair, remarks delivered to National Press Club, 14 Nov 2001).
Ext- Attack soon
The next attack will happen within the decade
Center for American Progress 07
[Third Semi-annual, Nonpartisan Survey of Foreign Policy Experts from the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy
“The Terrorism Index,” 8/20/07, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/08/terrorism_index.html]
To find out, Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress once again turned to the very people who have run the United States’ national security apparatus during the past half century. Surveying more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike—the FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation’s foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror. First released in July 2006, and again last February, the index attempts to draw definitive conclusions about the war’s priorities, policies, and progress. Its participants include people who have served as secretary of state, national security advisor, senior White House aides, top commanders in the U.S. military, seasoned intelligence professionals, and distinguished academics. Eighty percent of the experts have served in the U.S. government—including more than half in the Executive Branch, 32 percent in the military, and 21 percent in the intelligence community. The world these experts see today is one that continues to grow more threatening. Fully 91 percent say the world is becoming more dangerous for Americans and the United States, up 10 percentage points since February. Eighty-four percent do not believe the United States is winning the war on terror, an increase of 9 percentage points from six months ago. More than 80 percent expect a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade, a result that is more or less unchanged from one year ago.