Zach Sorenson, Student at Stanford University
To what extent do you think the lack of understanding of the danger of even a single nuclear blast is a result of bans on nuclear testing? Does the public underestimate the danger of a non-state actor like ISIL or al Qaeda obtaining a nuclear weapon?
Zach, good to hear from you.
As you probably heard too many times, I believe the 1963 atmospheric test ban treaty, which drove weapons testing underground has had a great deal with reducing the public understanding of what a single weapon can do.

When atmospheric tests took place before the ban, it was front page news with photographs of the explosions. Stories would continue as the fallout from the tests would travel around the world.

Once the tests were underground, test stories would be a paragraph or two inside a newspaper even as more powerful weapons were developed in smaller sizes so they could be delivered by intercontinental missiles rather than bombers.

There is always the danger of a non-state actor obtaining a weapons but depending on whose it is there is always the issue of how to deliver it and even how to make it explode with a nuclear reaction.

We once worried about people building a nuclear weapon in their basement -- it has never happened and probably never will given the danger in handling enriched uranium and plutonium plus the complexity of making work.
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