The likelihood of a nuclear attack on U.S. soil – part 1

Before I make the decision to start nuclear survival preparations—and, perhaps, make lifestyle changes–I need to know: What’s the probability of a nuke attack on U.S. soil?

Many people have qualitative opinions but I’ve found little quantitative analysis. Perhaps the risk can’t be calculated; or perhaps the numbers have been crunched and classified, I don’t know. But I’m looking for more than vague commentary with language like “serious threat” or “vanishingly small.”

The challenge is to decipher the misinformation and conflicting information. Some initial observations:

  1. There’s stuff from experts on both sides, pro and con (pro, it’s a serious threat; con, it’s not a serious threat).
  2. There may be people with extreme positions on both sides–alarmists and naysayers–and it’s hard to know who’s reasonable and who’s extreme.
  3. Voices in the debate may have an agenda, pro or con. After all, the Iraqi nuclear threat was one of the primary reasons President Bush took the U.S. to war.
  4. Short of a pro-agenda (that there’s a serious threat), I wonder if there’s a simple bias. When I think of everyone involved in securing the safety of America, from government to private security firms to equipment suppliers, I think of the old Mark Twain saying: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This would be unfortunate because the people involved in securing our lives know the most about the threat.

Another issue to consider as I weigh the threat is a passive mindset, an out-of-sight out-of-mind thing. Does the low frequency of domestic terrorist incidents–and a zero-incidence of nuclear terrorism worldwide–make it underrated as a risk? It’s easy to dismiss the absurd. As journalist Mark Steyn said recently on Fox News, “Every jihadist is a joke if you catch them in time. If those September 11th guys had been caught on September 10th, they would have seemed like jokes too.”

Does the headline “Nukes Kill 100,000!” sound absurd? It sounds like science fiction except it would have been an accurate headline in 1945 after the bombings in Japan. Didn’t the 9/11 Commission accuse the CIA and the FBI of a passive mindset when the Commission said that a “failure of imagination” contributed to the success of the 9/11 attack?

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2 Comments on “The likelihood of a nuclear attack on U.S. soil – part 1”

  1. Sansai Says:

    The probability is good. Why? Because we already know jihadists have tried to explode regular bombs on US soil. Add a little Cobalt 60 or Cessium, not to mention uranium or plutonium and you have a very nasty dirty bomb. While an all out nuclear attack (ICBM’s, MIRV warheads, etc.) on the US may be a low probability, albeit increasing, the real problem seems to be the dirty bomb. Regardless in either case, after the destruction, panic and economic chaos, the real issue of clean up starts. How do you escape from a shelter when the area around you is contaminated? Most spaces talk about soap and water and chemical wipes. There needs to be some kind of decon gel like they talk about on Star Trek.

    • Gene Says:

      Probability?—Zero
      Misgiving ? Fear?
      try to find
      Google … – – – … Lebed + Weldon – lost nukes
      where are hundreds od russian suitcase bombs?
      Probability—zero?
      Google — “San Diego Nukes” ?


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