Paris, Brussels, Düsseldorf:  Daesh (the Islamic State or ISIS) has shown that it can launch or plan attacks in the heart of Europe. Many observers believe that the increasing military pressure on Daesh in Syria and Iraq will induce it to compensate its loss of terrain and reputation by mounting ever more spectacular actions in Europe. The next step would be a nuclear attack, experts at a conference in Amsterdam agreed.

     “ISIS has already carried out numerous chemical weapons attacks in Syria; we know it wants to go further by carrying out a nuclear attack in the heart of Europe. This, combined with poor levels of security at a host of nuclear research centres in the former Soviet Union mean the threat of a possible ‘dirty-bomb’ attack on a Western capital is high,” said Viatcheslav Kantor, the president of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe.

    “Their previous documented attempts to gain access to a nuclear power station in Belgium are evidence of their intent.” “The terrorists don’t necessarily have to use a 'dirty bomb'. We are not just talking about stolen nuclear material, using conventional explosives in a nuclear plant, such as smuggling in a bomb, would have catastrophic consequences.”

    Desmond Browne, a former British defense secretary and vice-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), added:  It isn’t that hard to build a ‘dirty bomb’. They may not kill that many people with such a bomb, but the effect on the environment, the infrastructure and the psychological impact on people would be devastating. They can also use cyber warfare to target a nuclear facility.”

    The Forum called on the United States and Russia to resume cooperating in their respective nuclear policies and, as a matter of the highest priority, to rebuild U.S.-Russian relations.  Forum President Dr Kantor urged both to cooperate on using their technological resources to monitor the illegal transportation of radioactive materials.  The threat of a nuclear attack in Europe was at the highest level since the end of the Cold War, he said. 

-- ed