Catastrophic Nuke Terrorism ‘Inevitable’

( – Should a major metropolitan area suffer a nuclear attack, the consequent catastrophe would overwhelm America’s ability to respond, and kill thousands from the heat, blast, and radiation of the detonating weapon. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) agrees that such an attack would be devastating, but says deterrence can work by threatening retaliation against the states that produced the weapon.

Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative group, told Cybercast News Service that “the ramifications” of a nuclear attack on a major metropolitan area in the United States “would be catastrophic. Should an American city be wiped out, the death toll in the next terrorist attack would rise from 3,000 to 100,000.”

“America would survive as a nation,” he said, “but it would never again be the same.”

In a hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee this month, Ashton Carter, co-chairman of the Preventive Defense Project at Harvard University, said that the “scale of this disaster would quickly overwhelm even the most prepared city, and state governments.” He also predicted that, in the wake of such an attack, Americans would evacuate cities and disperse throughout the country.

Carter added that over the past five years, the possibility of a nuclear attack has “surely” grown. North Korea has become a nuclear power and Iran is attempting to do the same. Pakistan could potentially lose its nuclear technology to terrorists should the state disintegrate, and Russia’s Soviet-era nuclear material remains unsecured.

He then predicted that should a Hiroshima-grade bomb of 10 kilotons be detonated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – the grassy stretch of public space that extends from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial — an area within a two-mile radius would be destroyed.

Those immediately under a fallout cloud driven by the prevailing wind would suffer lethal doses of radiation, even should they seek “modest shelter,” said Carter. People downwind could possibly survive if they sought shelter, but should they jam the roads in an attempt to evacuate, they would likely be exposed to heavy amounts of fallout.

In his column in National Review Thursday, May cited another expert, Cham D. Dallas, director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia, who said a nuclear attack is “inevitable,” and added, “I think it’s wistful to think that it won’t happen by 20 years [from now].”

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