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Future history question: Acceptable response to terrorist nuke?

 
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Future history question: Acceptable response to terrori... - 1/7/2015 9:35:45 PM   
Mgellis


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Here's a question related to scenario design.

Let's say a terrorist group detonates a nuclear weapon in a populated area and kills thousands of people. Let's say it is possible to identify which group is responsible, either because they admit it or because of reliable intelligence sources.

What would the world consider an acceptable response? How much force could the nation that was attacked and/or its allies use in response not only to a massive terrorist attack (similar in scale to or greater than 9/11) but one that involved nuclear weapons? How much leeway would the world give these nations to do things like carry out attacks against any regions known to be the "home territories" of these terrorist groups?

For example, if London was hit with a terrorist nuke, and 10,000 died, and a good chunk of the city was left poisoned and unusable, and people knew the terrorists were extremists based out of Egypt, how far would the U.K. and NATO be allowed to go to get justice and/or revenge? (Of course, when I say "allowed" I mean in terms of world opinion...I suspect that unless the U.K. did something like simply vaporize every city in Egypt no one would try to actually force them to stop...and maybe not even then.)

Related questions...what if the weapons were not nuclear but chemical, biological, etc.? Assume the same scale of attack with a similar horrifying death toll, etc.

What are your thoughts on this?

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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/7/2015 10:00:09 PM   
jtoatoktoe

 

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Well the U.S. held Afghanistan responsible for what happened on 9/11 for what Al Qaeda did. So Egypt would most likely be held responsible if the group was able to operate freely.

As for Bio or Chemical....U.S. Policy is a Nuclear Response since Bio and Chemical Weapons are not part of the arsenal anymore.

Now would the UK or US nuke Egypt...probably not, but you could imagine the most intense bombardment in anger by Allied Forces.

(in reply to Mgellis)
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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/8/2015 12:56:56 AM   
ExNusquam

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: jtoatoktoe

Well the U.S. held Afghanistan responsible for what happened on 9/11 for what Al Qaeda did. So Egypt would most likely be held responsible if the group was able to operate freely.

More specifically, the US held the Taliban Regime responsible for failure to turn over UBL after it became clear AQC was behind 9/11. The Taliban were already under serious international sanctions for their failure to turn over UBL in the late 90's (See UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1333). In addition to the existing international restrictions, most NATO countries were prepared to enact Article 5 of the NATO Charter (attack on the US in North America). That said, if Egyptian based militants attacked London, with the current government in Egypt, I don't see the same level of international condemnation (simply because they aren't already under fire)

quote:

As for Bio or Chemical....U.S. Policy is a Nuclear Response since Bio and Chemical Weapons are not part of the arsenal anymore.

Now would the UK or US nuke Egypt...probably not, but you could imagine the most intense bombardment in anger by Allied Forces.

A fairly quiet change to US policy happened under Obama a few years ago. The "Nuke Retaliation to all WMDs" is actually no longer a thing, in most cases. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/06arms.html?_r=0


As to Mark's original question, I would assume that in the event of a serious NBC attack, there would be almost no international opposition to a massive conventional operation against the perpetrators. If it was a NATO country, Article 5 would be invoked and they would support such action. Russia/China would also likely refrain from making more than token opposition, as it is their national interests to respond to such an attack in a similar fashion. (Note their Yes vote on UNSC Resolution 1368 authorizing action against AQC)


< Message edited by ExNusquam -- 1/8/2015 1:57:16 AM >

(in reply to jtoatoktoe)
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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/8/2015 5:29:38 PM   
StellarRat

 

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Only a nation armed with ICBMs would be able to shield/hide the terrorists if they were determined to be there. It would be suicidal for an non-nuclear armed nation to try something that stupid. However, I have my doubts that any sovereign nation would actively shield terrorists that had detonated a nuke in another country. They have their own interests to protect in the future and having the whole world turn against them would be a slow death (or quick possibly.)

(in reply to ExNusquam)
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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/8/2015 7:44:23 PM   
mikmykWS

 

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The world has changed a lot since 911 so not really sure what the response would be from any modern power. Obviously there would be much anger however all have been involved in one protracted insurgency or more in the last few years so their public would be hard pressed to support a bug hunt anywhere else. I'm guessing they'd start with actually negotiating with the host government, move on to drone or PGM strike warfare if possible and then finally invasion if absolutely necessary. Much of this would depend on the resolve of the host country (are these guys worth having big Red or big Blue cratering my infrastructure). Its a good question.

Mike

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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/8/2015 10:59:55 PM   
DirtyFred


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depends which country is nuked... nuking a city in russia would "arm" the "dead hand", which triggers automatic ICBM response. sources say it is turned off if there is not a crisis. it is a dark relict from cold war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_%28nuclear_war%29

if a nuclear weapons state or NATO state city is nuked, all hell brakes loose. when saddam attacked israel with scuds, the us potus and state department almost could not stop israel from retaliating and nuking iraq. it is possible to use fuel-air bombs or mini nukes - but it depends on the politicians and their military.

in general, all military and secret services do anything to prevent nukes and nuclear material getting in terrorist hands. after the collapse of the soviet union there were stories of warheads available on the black market. financial reasons override common sense and some ex-soviet states tried (or try?) to sell warheads and nuclear material...
http://news.yahoo.com/georgia-details-nuke-black-market-investigations-153216292.html

terrorists could get low grade nuclear material to build dirty bombs.



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One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

(in reply to mikmykWS)
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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/11/2015 5:33:20 AM   
Klahn

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: DirtyFred

depends which country is nuked... nuking a city in russia would "arm" the "dead hand", which triggers automatic ICBM response. sources say it is turned off if there is not a crisis. it is a dark relict from cold war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_%28nuclear_war%29

if a nuclear weapons state or NATO state city is nuked, all hell brakes loose. when saddam attacked israel with scuds, the us potus and state department almost could not stop israel from retaliating and nuking iraq. it is possible to use fuel-air bombs or mini nukes - but it depends on the politicians and their military.



Dead Hand would launch a full scale war strike against NATO. I seriously doubt the Russians would arm such a system in the event of a terrorist attack against them. What do they have to gain by nuking the US and its allies if a second weapon detonates?

Iraq was a state actor during Gulf War 1. Raining missiles on Israel was an obvious ploy to try to create a split in the coalition forces if Israel involved itself in retaliation, but it wasn't terrorism. For Israel to use nuclear weapons in response to scud attacks would likely be national suicide. Israel would lose all international support if they engaged in such a ridiculous overreaction. Without support from its big allies, Israel would cease to exist in short order.

If we are talking about a small nuke blowing up in a random NATO country in an apparent terrorist strike, all hell would not break loose. If the source of the weapon is found, and the nation hosting the source refuses to cooperate, I would expect a punishing air campaign to destroy the source of the weapon and the government of the hosting nation. Use of ground troops would depend on how effective the air campaign could be at wiping out those responsible. The US has already suffered over 57,000 total casualties just in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about 10,000 deaths total in the War on Terror. However, the US has taken almost no action against Pakistan, which while having a US friendly government, is also the new base of both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

(in reply to DirtyFred)
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RE: Future history question: Acceptable response to ter... - 1/12/2015 7:42:30 AM   
Casinn

 

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You also have to factor in current relations between the superpowers, right now I think Russia would object to any US/UK action even if they didn't really care, just to object, publicly at least.
Many variables in play, would greatly depend on the political situation of "host" nation.
Perhaps a chemical/bio weapon in Seoul that was proven North Korea, would China step aside and allow the US carte blanche?

(in reply to Klahn)
Post #: 8
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