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Non-state actors & WMD: Does ISIS have a pathway to a nuclear weapon?

On March 2014, during the Nuclear Security Summit held in the Netherlands, President Obama identified his number one concern as being the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan. UK Home Secretary Theresa May pinpointed her particular fear of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) acquisition of “chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons” in the “world’s first truly terrorist state”. Fortunately, there has not yet been a nuclear or radiological terrorist attack, but the smuggling of nuclear material remains a pivotal threat to nuclear security. Al Qaeda has previously claimed that “acquiring WMD for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty,” and the attacks of 9/11 have clearly demonstrated the capabilities of groups like Al Qaeda. More recently, the Islamic State, which is an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, has demonstrated its brutality through various operations, and has attracted foreign fighters to its extremist Wahhabist ideology. Their demonstrated extremism serves as an indication of the extent to which they will go in order to enforce their goals, but does ISIS have the intention and capability to acquire a nuclear weapon? Published ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit ths week, this report explores the necessary factors and various pathways to a WMD, and security measures that could mitigate risks of non-state actors acquring sensitive materials and weapons.

Read the briefing report by clicking the PDF link below.


Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA


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