Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Right of Boom

Feb. 13, 2015

By Matthew Bunn

Over the weekend, the New York Times reviewedRight of Boom: The Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism, by Benjamin E. Schwartz.  Fundamentally, the potential consequences of nuclear terrorism are so catastrophic that even a small probability is enough to justify cooperative steps to reduce the danger.  The heart of a major city might be turned to a smoldering radioactive ruin.  Either the terrorists who perpetrated the attack or others might claim they had more nuclear weapons already hidden in major cities — and after the first bomb went off, the credibility of their threat would be high, potentially causing panic and uncontrolled evacuation.  The economic effects would reverberate around the world.  When Kofi Annan was Secretary-General of the United Nations, he warned that these global effects would push millions of people into poverty, creating a “second death toll throughout the developing world.”  While the probability may be low, the consequences are so high that the risk remains substantial.  The United States and other countries with nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear materials must do everything in their power to ensure that these materials are secure and accounted for and cannot fall into terrorist hands.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Right of Boom.” Nuclear Security Matters, February 13, 2015,