The discovery and subsequent killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan raises troubling questions. The success of the U.S.’s airborne raid on bin Laden’s compound-undetected by Pakistan’s radar- lends credence to the belief that terrorists might be capable of successfully seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Mr. Charles P. Blair has authored a new FAS report (PDF) that addresses the security gap and identifies specific terrorists within Pakistan who are motivated and potentially capable of taking Pakistani nuclear assets. Blair explains in the report details why, amid Pakistan’s burgeoning civil war, the Pakistani Neo-Taliban is the most worrisome terrorist group motivated and possibly capable of acquiring nuclear weapons.
Read the report Anatomizing Non-State Threats to Pakistan’s Nuclear Infrastructure (PDF).
Today I gave two presentations to Brookhaven National Laboratory on the topics of radiological terrorism and attacks on nuclear facilities such as nuclear power plants. These presentations were for a course of nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear policy given this month at the laboratory. The course is part of the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Popular headlines in biosecurity news
The Monthly Roundup is a new article featuring the top news stories from the Virtual Biosecurity Center (VBC). The VBC is a global resource for daily biosecurity news and current topics. Every month, a collection of the VBC’s most popular headlines will be summarized with a brief analysis to keep you updated on the latest in biosecurity.
1. Smallpox Destruction Gets Deferred
On May 24th, 2011, after much anticipation and debate, the World Health Assembly agreed to postpone the destruction of the last known stockpiles of the smallpox virus until 2014. The consensus was reached after two days of deliberation at the 64th World Health Assembly (WHA), the 193 state-comprised forum of the World Health Organization (WHO), which took place from May 16-24, 2011 in Geneva.
Smallpox, a deadly infectious disease caused by the Variola major and Variola minor viruses, was declared globally eradicated over 30 years ago. Live samples of the virus have since been securely held at two WHO repositories in the U.S. and Russia for research purposes. The decision to destroy the remaining stocks was first put forth in 1996 and has since been repeatedly postponed. Continue reading