Terrorism and Technology

Topics: Terrorism, Nuclear weapon, Attack Pages: 9 (3253 words) Published: January 17, 2011
THE TERRORIST THREAT TODAY
India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies, are both vulnerable to terrorist attacks. As an Indian participant in the workshop said, “The most vulnerable states are those with open societies that tolerate dissent.” So far, India and the United States have faced rather different forms of terror attacks. Notwithstanding the terrorist threat, modern industrial societies have some offsetting advantages. Their global intelligence services and military presence, especially when they cooperate with one another, may keep the terror networks off balance, and may be able to damage some of them and interfere with their communications and money flows. Military action, or the threat of it, may discourage rogue states from supporting the terrorists. Nevertheless, highly efficient economies also acquire vulnerabilities and reduced resilience from the private sector’s reluctance to sacrifice efficiency to reduce catastrophic risks whose likelihood is difficult to estimated One area in which both India and the United States enjoy impressive capability is research and innovation. Through the application of available or new technologies, states can make targets less vulnerable, thus less attractive. They can limit the damage that may result from an attack, increase the speed of recovery, and provide forensic tools to identify the perpetrators. However, terrorist networks are led by well-educated and well-financed people who may also enjoy advanced technical skills. If supported by a government whose military establishment has developed weapons of mass destruction, these skills may be greatly amplified. Any technical strategy for responding to the threat of catastrophic terrorism must address this fact. •fissile nuclear materials, tactical nuclear weapons, and radiological materials •pathological organisms (human, plant, and animal)

military-type toxic chemical weapons
inflammable, toxic, and explosive chemicals and materials in industrial use •cyberattacks and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks on electronic targets (telecoms, data, or command and control centers) •transportation systems used as delivery systems for weapons •explosives, either conventional or derived from fuel oil and nitrogen fertilizer (ammonium nitrate), for example Benefits-

revitalization of the public health service for serving the normal health needs of communities •technical capability to respond even faster and more effectively to natural biological threats such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus, and monkey pox virus •reduction in the number of illnesses caused by infection or poisoning of the food supply •more reliable electric power and other services, especially in the face of hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes •further improvements in the safety standards of the chemical industry •reduced incidence of cyber attacks by hackers and financial systems made more secure against theft and malicious damage •more efficient and timely tracking of goods in transit and billing for their content •reduced risk to fire, police, and emergency health professionals MITIGATION: THE ROLE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Nuclear and Radiological Threats
If terrorists with a minimal level of scientific knowledge can acquire enough highly enriched uranium (HEU), they may be able to assemble an inefficient but effective nuclear weapon for detonation in a major city. The countries are now cooperating in safeguarding fissile material and blending down stocks of HEU, but progress is far too slow. Even more dangerous is the possible availability to terrorists of finished nuclear weapons either stolen and sold from nuclear states or provided by rogue states capable of making them. The public must be educated on the nature of radiological threats, both from Radiation Dispersal Devices (dirty bombs) and from damaged nuclear electric power plants and radioactive waste storage. Public ignorance about...
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