Background

Superviolence is defined as the illegitimate use of nuclear, chemical, or biological mass destruction devices by domestic agents for attack or threat against U.S. civil society. Political extremism, sever mental imbalance, and criminal gain are examined as possible motivations. Since the nuclear industry constitutes the primary source of fissionable material for fabricating an illicit weapon, its policies, practices, and diversion safequards program are investigated. The threat process is analyzed in five phases: idea conception, group formation, weapon fabrication, application (attack or threat), and consequences. The steps of each phase are described for various weapons, with emphasis on the human factors, skills and resources involved. Potential failure modes are identified, and assessed as more severe in the nuclear than in the chemical or biological case. The important distinctions between direct attack, coercive threat, and sham are analyzed in detail. Actual nuclear superviolence is held to be an extremely unlikely phenomenon due to its dependence on the coalescence of specialized motives, high commitment, inhibition of restraints, technical skills, and significant resources in a risky, failure-prone process of inapparent utility. Chemical or biological superviolence is deemed more practicable, with the latter having an anit-personnel potential greater than the nuclear case. Provisions for controlling and responding to superviolent incidents are examined.

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Superviolence: The Civil Threat of Mass Destruction Weapons, 1972 [448 Pages, 18.5MB]

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