Terrorists are seeking atomic materials to kill “as many people as they possibly could,” British Prime Minister David Cameron warned world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington on Thursday.
At a time when Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) are thought to have designs on a so-called dirty bomb – a conventional explosive with radioactive material placed in densely populated areas – the PM said terrorists will use “whatever materials they can get their hands on.”
Cameron emphasized why he believed this is such a key issue now.
“We know that the terrorists we face today would like to kill as many people as they possibly could.
“So obviously the security of nuclear materials, for those countries that have nuclear programs, is incredibly important and that’s why this conference like previous conferences will make sure that we have proper security for those materials, not just in Britain – we are quite a global leader in this – but also all over the world.
“So it’s a very important subject, there will be very important actions announced at this conference, and it’s about making sure our world is safe and secure and we are not at risk from terrorists coming together with nuclear materials.”
Following the attacks in Brussels last month, Belgian media reported that two of the suicide bombers had video footage of the home of a senior official at Flanders nuclear waste facility.
Britain and the US will take part in a joint exercise next year to prepare for cyber-attacks against nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities.
A UK government source told the Press Association there was no “credible evidence” that terrorists were targeting British facilities. The UK has 15 operational nuclear reactors at seven plants across the country.
Despite Cameron’s assurances of Britain’s expertise in nuclear security, the nation’s track record in protecting civilian and military nuclear sites has come under scrutiny in the past year, as the perceived threat from IS terrorists in Europe has grown.
Last May, Royal Navy submariner-turned-whistleblower William McNeilly went on the run after publishing a damning report into security on Britain’s nuclear submarines.
Speaking to RT, McNeilly said security staff at Faslane Naval Base don’t even check bags or boxes that are brought onboard.
“All you need to get on board is a couple of fake IDs. Terrorist groups like ISIS have already shown they can produce legitimate documents.
“Thousands of Royal Navy IDs go missing every year as well, so they could come across one. Increasing numbers within the UK have radicalized people, which increases the risk of one of them coming across an ID.
“Going on that patrol, I think there was 180 people on board. They’re all bringing on big bags unchecked. All it would take would be for one of them to have a bomb.”