At the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington, D.C last month., representatives from fifty-two countries pledged to improve nuclear security. This pledge was taken following the attacks at Paris and Brussels and with the threat of terrorists attempting to use the nuclear or dirty bomb looming large.
There has been plenty of intelligence in the past that suggests that terrorists will attempt to either make a dirty bomb or hijack a nuclear station.
There are 444 nuclear power plants which operate in 30 countries apart from 243 smaller research reactors used to produce isotopes for medical purposes and also train nuclear engineers. It is these smaller research reactors that are under threat as a terrorist who can access it could find enough material to make a dirty bomb.
Ignoring the threat is not an option today:
The threat is real and terrorists are looking to innovate and be more destructive. Nuclear plants are key targets for any terrorist organisation. Terrorists would either attempt a sabotage at the plant or make attempts to steal material. Attempts could also be made to send out radioactive material by hijacking the station.
Groups such as the ISIS have been desperate to make the dirty bomb. They have been claiming that they have access to the dirty bomb, but security officials say that at the moment they are just creating a hype. However one cannot forever continue to ignore the messages from the ISIS treating it as hype.
Special emphasis needs to be given on providing the best possible security at nuclear plants and also to the engineers who work at these plants. The engineers especially must be heavily guarded as terrorist organisations could try and abduct them in a bid to learn more about the preparation of the bomb.
Further there is a good chance of terrorists making an attempt to steal material from these plants.
The other possibility is that terrorists could storm a nuclear plant and hijack it.
Consider this incident that took place at Sweden. Four persons entered two nuclear power plants by breaking open the gates. The four had hidden overnight on the roof, but later surrendered.
These were Greenpeace activists staging a protest. It could have well bene terrorists. The point is that this exposed the security mechanism at such an important place.