Author Biography

Oliver Mihell-Hale is a Doctoral Researcher at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on the variation in types of violence in different strategies of terrorism, seeking to identify the patterns of violence associated with different strategies of terrorism and to explain this.



Subject Area Keywords

Homeland security, Nonstate actors, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Violent extremism, Weapons of mass destruction


Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) terrorism has long been a threat that has concerned policy makers. This paper highlights the factors which determine when a group is likely to use CBRN weapons given the numerous constraints on their use. A group which is desperate, small, and innovative is most likely to resort to their use as the taboos which constrain groups under normal circumstances become an incentive. These characteristics also determine what type of CBRN weapon will be used, a basic radiological weapon. A radiological weapon is relatively easy to develop compared to other options, and the material for it can be easily acquired. Using International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports, this research explores numerous shortcomings in sectors using radiological material both past and present. Significant failures have occurred in, and continue to occur in the medical, scrap metal, energy, and industrial practices. These are shown to provide ample opportunity to a resource poor group to carry out a successful CBRN attack.