US President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last month rightly warned that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon “is one of the greatest threats to global security” and hence the related material must be fully safeguarded.
This threat is really too serious to be overlooked. According to knowledgeable sources, roughly 2,000 tons of nuclear materials are held at military and civilian facilities around the world today. In the United States, 98% of highly enriched uranium are lying in military stockpiles. Clearly, such materials must be safeguarded against falling into the hands of terror groups.
Al-Qaida has long sought nuclear materials. Another terror outfit, Islamic State, has used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Syria and Iraq. Recently, the Belgian police reportedly discovered that the Islamic State conducted surveillance on the home of an officer at a Belgian nuclear site which held large stocks of highly enriched uranium. Given the ideology of these terror groups, one could well imagine the fate of the world if they were able to lay their hands on the nuclear materials!
It is questionable if any major world power is sufficiently committed to stopping terrorists from grabbing the dangerous nuclear materials. Russia was neither present at the Washington summit nor has it ever said if and how it proposes to prevent terror groups from obtaining nukes. Communist China is being friendly to certain terror groups that are ideologically too close to al Qaeda not to attempt grabbing nukes in future. Beijing recently intervened to stop Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar from being put on the UN list of proscribed terrorists. Azhar is the leader of the JeM associated with the Taliban that had been banned in 2001. The JeM and Masood Azhar are allegedly responsible for the Pathankot attack ( January 2, 2016) and continuing terror activities in India.
As for the United States, the United Kingdom and France, they are befriending Saudi Arabia, its Gulf allies and Iran that have backed different terror groups ideologically as well as materially. It is well documented that Riyadh has been one of the chief sources of all Sunni jihadist groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front. However, Washington provides military and intelligence support to the kingdom for its regional security. The Obama administration has sold the Saudis military equipment worth $90 billion over the last seven years. Recently, the US administration has moved closer to the fanatical Khomeini regime in Tehran. It seems determined to implement its nuclear accord with Iran and remove all the nuclear sanctions hitherto slapped on Tehran.
If the United States really wishes to foil the terror groups’ nuclear ambitions or designs, it must rein in at once all its friendly but fanatically sectarian states, particularly, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two main forces behind most of the terror groups in the world today. Saudi Arabia’s very existence in its present fanatical Wahhabi form or Iran’s in the Khomeninst one depends upon the spread of certain distorted versions of Islam under their leadership in the world. This means the continued Saudi and Iranian support, overt and covert, to terror groups against the United States (and other democracies). And in the process, chances of the terror groups being able to grab nukes or the materials thereof cannot be ruled out.
During a presidential debate in February, Ted Cruz aptly said that the United States should “hold our friends to account, that friends do not fund jihadists that are seeking to murder us.” Much earlier, Henry Kissinger has rightly suggested the key to anti-terrorism strategy would be to “destroy its safe havens” everywhere. Washington must apply this principle universally to checkmate the terror groups from grabbing the dangerous materials.
Jagdish N. Singh