Nuclear terrorism is rightly considered to be a grave current threat. An article in The Atlantic in 2006, in which a journalist set how to see how hard it is to obtain nuclear material, concluded that building a nuclear bomb would be very difficult, but not impossible, for a terrorist. Even if a terrorist were to obtain nuclear material, it is unlikely that the terrorist organization would have the ability to build a missile system that could deliver the bomb from afar. Therefore, a nuclear terrorist attack would have to be a bomb planted somewhere, either in a city, or a boat in the harbor of a city. Such scenarios are the stuff of nightmares, but surveillance is now so strong that it is unlikely these bombs would be undetected. Many experts deem nuclear terrorism to be a preventable catastrophe.
I want to apply Greenwald’s point to nuclear weapons: states can be nuclear terrorists as well. Whether it’s on a regional level, like Israel’s continued threats towards Iran or North Korea’s posturing towards South Korea and Japan, or on an existential level, such as the combined humanity-threatening power of the United States’ and Russia’s combined arsenals, I think that the destructive power of states’ nuclear weapons necessarily renders them “state terror.” If we cannot tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of non-state actors, then we should also not tolerate them in the possession of states, who actually have the present capability to use them.