Conventional Military Strikes on Nuclear Plants

There is a long history of conventional military strikes on ostensibly peaceful nuclear plants in the Middle East, driven by proliferation fears. Examples include the destruction of reactors in Iraq by Israel and the US; Iran’s attempts to strike nuclear facilities in Iraq during the 1980-88 war (and vice versa); Iraq’s attempted strikes on Israel’s nuclear facilities; and, most recently, Israel’s bombing of a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria in 2007.

If we extend that line of thought, what happens when two nuclear-powered nations go to war? Will they shut down their power reactors and go without electricity, or take the risk of a Chernobyl-scale catastrophe initiated by missile strikes? What happens on the Indian subcontinent if there is a major expansion of nuclear power? The US National Counterterrorism Center has documented 4462 terrorist incidents in India and 3687 in Pakistan over the past five years. A large expansion of nuclear power will increase the risk of subcontinental terrorism going nuclear.