Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Terrorism involving nuclear or radiological materials remains one of the gravest threats to humanity and to global stability. It was a central concern throughout President Obama’s tenure, with efforts to harness international initiatives coming to the fore at the Nuclear Security Summits. The incoming administration, however, should take a fresh look at a region of the world that hosts two states with nuclear weapons and a serious terrorism problem: South Asia.
Analysis on South Asia tends to occur in silos that focus on either nuclear risks or terrorism risks; fewer studies investigate the overlap between the two.
But we’ve mapped the geography of high-risk locations and violence by non-state actors—that is, the target threat environment—in South Asia’s two states with advancing nuclear weapons programs, India and Pakistan. The low probability but high potential cost of an incident of nuclear or radiological terror merits greater attention from citizens and policy makers alike, and the requisite means, motive, and opportunities for an incident of terror via weapons of mass destruction or disruption converge in South Asia.