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Terrorism in the United States and the Potential Threat to Nuclear Facilities

NCJ Number
B Hoffman
Date Published
61 pages
This report examines the threat posed by terrorism to U.S. nuclear weapons production and research facilities.
Although the United States is frequently targeted by terrorists abroad, few terrorist attacks occur within its borders, and politically motivated crimes are relatively infrequent. Nevertheless, three types of terrorist organizations are active in the United States: ethnic separatist and emigre groups, left-wing radical organizations, and right-wing racist and survivalist groups. No terrorist group has yet attacked a nuclear facility in this country and no available evidence indicates that any U.S.-based group plans to do so. While there may not be a present threat, this situation could easily change. Although domestic terrorist groups have relied on symbolic bombings, and have avoided defended sites, State-sponsored (i.e., those operating in the United States at the behest of a foreign government) have greater resources and fewer political constraints, and therefore pose a potentially greater threat to nuclear weapons sites. 21 references. (Author summary modifed)