THE SHADOW THREAT: THEFT, TRAFFICKING, AND NUCLEAR TERROR
Monday, September 17th – Partnership for a Secure America, the Arms Control Association, and Hudson Institute held the first event in a new series – The Nuclear Security Forum. The event explored the threats posed by terrorist organizations and rogue states, and the illicit trafficking networks they use to acquire nuclear material and technology.
Former Deputy Administrator of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for the National Nuclear Security Administration, Anne Harrington delivered keynote remarks focused on hybrid threats and the role of Congress. Constancy of funding and the potential for terrorists to exploit natural disasters and government shutdowns loomed large in Ms. Harrington’s remarks:
“All disruption, creates opportunity. It’s unpleasant to think about, but it’s important.”
A panel featuring former NNSA Assistant Deputy Adminisitrator for Arms Control and Nonproliferation Leonard Spector and former Department of Energy Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence Rolf Mowatt-Larssen followed. Mr. Spector focused on the structure and function of illicit trafficking and procurement networks operated by rogue states and terrorist organizations, noting that these two types of networks operate differently and hold different aims. State-run procurement networks often focus on dual-use technologies to support illicit nuclear weapons programs, while networks run by non-state actors typically focus on acquiring weapons-useable material or fully functional nuclear weapons.
Mr. Mowatt-Larssen brought the perspective of a career intelligence officer, both through his time at DoE and as a 30-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency. Describing the dynamics of a potential nuclear terrorist attack, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen described how, contrary to what many believe, such a scenario is well within the realm of possibility, and could be planned similarly to the attacks perpetrated on September 11th, 2001.