Is Korea Safe from Nuclear Terror Acts?
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Is Korea Safe from Nuclear Terror Acts?
By Nam Ki-yong, Ph.D General Director, Korea Counter Terrorism System Inc.

03(Wed), Aug, 2016

Various burns suffered by the victins from the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine  in April 26, 1986.

IS, an extremist armed organization, claims to have supporters everywhere in the world. Through SNS, it has designated some 60 nations as its terrorist attack targets. They included Korea as one of the targeted countries, just because it’s an ally of the U.S. and Japan. North Korea has also been challenging and threatening the world.

Let’s see the terrorist acts committed by North Korea. They begin with the Aung San Terrorist Attack in Burma on Oct. 9, 1983, and a bomb blast aboard a Korean Air plane on Nov. 29 in 1987.

South Korea should prepare to prevent terrorist attacks with diverse means, thoroughly backed by legal systems, but has yet to legislate the laws on account of various reasons, including they might infringe on individual rights. However, the nation has to prevent those criminal acts with the preemptive measures before they occur. 

The most common terrorist acts that Islamic terrorist groups have undertaken in the Arab region, and the terrorist acts committed by North Korea, are massive killings with indiscriminate bombs. Therefore, many countries have installed inspection systems imported from foreign countries at high costs to prevent the illegal import of bombs and weapons. The Incheon International Airport has been equipped with top inspection systems, as one of the best airports in the world.

Before we go any further, we have to imagine the forms of terrorist acts that have yet to happen, like nuclear terrorist attacks and the spread of those acts. The current inspection systems at most of the top airports and harbors in the world will not be able to detect radioactive materials smuggled through them with any certain predictability. They are inadequate to detect those nuclear radioactive materials because they rely too heavily on systems using x-ray photos and the human eye.

The human eye cannot find small amounts of radioactive and nuclear materials, as they don’t show up in x-ray photos, and they will try to smuggle in very small amount of those radioactive materials to evade x-ray inspection. The terrorists can dilute radioactive materials in water to increase their amount, and pass them around to important figures in governments or public organizations to assassinate them with the radioactive materials.

The radioactive terrorist attacks cannot be known unless terrorists openly declare the attacks were made unlike bombs or any other explosive materials used in the attacks.

The spread of those radioactive or nuclear materials cannot be known unless they announce the locations in advance. The area or areas contaminated with radioactive or nuclear materials should be closed for a long time or decontaminate them at massive costs.

If those contaminated areas include major government institutions or public organizations the huge damages done to them need no explanation to imagine the extent of damages.

We ought to examine and inspect the radioactive materials smuggled into the country by terrorists, but we also have to watch out for the possible spread of radioactive materials into the sea and the Imjin River that flows through the DMZ. We also have to watch out for the entry of contaminated old steel pieces and farm produce grown near the nuclear power stations like Chernovyl and Fukushima that had accidents and other similar products near those nuke power plants.

At present, no actions were taken to check the seriousness of the contamination if those contaminated radioactive materials were brought into the country.

Advanced countries like the U.S., Britain, and Japan have nuclear material-checking facilities, not only for military operations, but at their major airports, harbors and at land cargo portals to prevent them from being brought into their countries.

We also have to have similar checking systems installed in Korea to search for radioactive or other contaminable materials smuggled into the country by passengers and cargoes through all logistics channels. We also have to have checking facilities installed at lobbies of airports, subway stations and railroad stations, in addition to the locations where many people gather.

If any show up at those checking facilities, we ought to analyze them thoroughly by the relevant institution and share information with national security agencies. Central authorities should also be involved to investigate their entry into the country. 

We have systematic methods and solutions to preempt any such attack, and also prevent the smuggling of radioactive materials into the country. 

In order to manage those solutions effectively, we must have the understanding and cooperation among state organizations in managing the operations of harbors, airports and railroads and all those gates on land for entry and departure. Furthermore, we ought to legislate terror prevention regulations so that the prevention of nuclear terror smuggling and the installation of inspection systems should become legally required in Korea. If we ask ourselves again, Is the control of checking and management systems for terror and illegal nuclear materials being managed properly in Korea? 

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