The Hiroshima Fallacy
A nuclear physicist shares his views on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons;
The most likely form of nuclear attack in the modern world is one carried out by terrorists. In carrying out such an attack, the attackers might well use a device quite different from the sophisticated weapon that military experts suggest it will take Iran “five to eight years” to develop. Current thought on this subject is often informed by what one might call the “Hiroshima fallacy,” the belief that terrorists would not consider the use of a nuclear weapon significantly less sophisticated than the first weapon used against Japan, or one with a yield significantly less than the yield of that weapon. This is simply not true. Terrorists could inflict tremendous damage in terms of both human life and economic disruption with much simpler devices. Another potentially dangerous fallacy is the notion that terrorists could not attack without transporting a complete weapon to the target. This, too, is nonsense.
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