posted on Jan, 6 2004 @ 08:17 PM
who would we retaliate against? that is in fact Osama's plan. To induce such retaliation by the USA that all the Muslims would unify (under him
one presumes) and reject their collaborationist governments. to some degree, his plan has been working well. Despite the fact that he viciously
attacked the USA unprovoked, more muslims hate the USA now than before.
I am not a conspiracy fanatic, but I do wonder if a major terrorist attack would give reason for Bush to cancel the Nov 2004 election.
Here is the nightmare scenario: numerous fissile nuclear weapons planted in major cities.
Now, the danger is not one going off---that is the conventional "nightmare scenario". Actually that is not as bad as it could get. Assuming the
terrorists could steal or make only smallish tactical weapons, that would probably between 0.5 and, at most, 10 kilotons.
If detonated in NYC that might kill 50-100K, but NYC is blanketed by security and radiation detectors (I hope). In most other cities, casualties are
probably more like 5,000 to 15,000 in more suburban oriented places, e.g. LA or Dallas. Note that Hiroshima, being a 1945 Japanese city was very
compact and people built houses out of wood and paper. Also, mass evacuation and coverage of fallout would be better now that we know how it
That attack would really really really suck, but the USA would survive.
Here is the REAL nightmare scenario. Osama blows up a nuke. He now goes on al-Jazeera and says, "We have 87 more warheads hidden, and extremely
well shielded, in many major cities across the planet. Our demands are as follows
1) execution of 80% of the Jews living in your country within 30 days, followed by the remainder in 3 months.
2) US or Russia use their missiles to incinerate Israel
3) abolishment of the U.S. Constitution and U.N. Charter, and exclusive recognition of Islamic Law
This would induce mass panic and total collapse of the world economy as everybody left the cities and quit their jobs. We're talking 20 year
Even Imperial Japan knew that if they surrendered the USA was not going to nuke them again.
But Osama would. Whether or not he actually had 87 warheads in reality, the fear, demonstrated by one or two going off, would be enough to devastate
the economy and prompt martial law probably.
If the terrorists can really get and detonate thermonuclear weapons with true radiation-implosion secondaries, then we are really really really
On the good side, these cannot be made "in a cave". They require pretty good and careful design and alot of technology. They would have to be
stolen, presumably from the USSR/Russia. Furthermore, the most compact nuclear weapons depend on having tritium as a booster in the fission primary.
Tritium decays due to natural radioactivity into helium with a half life of 11 years or so. If enough of it decays, then the nuclear weapon will not
perform up to its design specification. Significant amounts (gram quantities) of tritium needed for nuclear weapons are not easy to get. Tritium
needs to be manufactured in a nuclear reactor, as does plutonium.
However, there is a possibility that if a terrorist group were to acquire say 10 old tactical warheads from the USSR, then possibly with significant
technical effort it could extract the decayed tritium and helium and filter out the helium from the tritium (by using palladium or platnium metallic
storage, e.g.) and get enough pure tritium for say 3 or 4 warheads.
Or alternatively, remanufacture the plutonium and uranium in those warheads into a smaller number of less-efficient warheads which do not need
This would require some significant time and moderate expertise. Probably more than jihadists in Afghanistan have, but certainly not beyond the
capabilities of the Iraqi scientists, much less the Pakistani, Russians or Chinese.