Security Experts Say No Nuclear Option for Al Qaeda – CQ Homeland Security

The nightmare scenario that keeps homeland security officials awake at night — the detonation of a nuclear bomb on U.S. soil — is unlikely enough to be safely relegated to the land of dreams, a pair of prominent security experts said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill forum.

Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling and al Qaeda specialist Peter Bergen, speaking on separate panels in a daylong discussion sponsored by the New America Foundation, came to similar conclusions on the possibility that al Qaeda or a like-minded group would be able to get hold of the bomb-making materials and expertise needed to pull off a nuclear attack.

Schelling, a University of Maryland economics and foreign policy professor who won a Nobel Prize in economics in 2005 for applying game theory to international conflict and cooperation, posited that the hurdles of going from the black-market collection of fissile material to its ignition in an urban holocaust were so numerous and complex, they pushed the question to the outer limits of probability.