Emerging Technologies are Posing a Significant Threat to the Security of Nuclear and Radiological Facilities

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This dissertation provides an assessment of the threats posed by emerging technologies to nuclear facilities and radiological facilities. The emerging technologies considered in this research were Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones; Cyber technology; Artificial Intelligence (AI); Sensor technologies; Quantum technologies; and Hypersonic Missiles. The emphasis of this dissertation was, however, on drones and cyber technology, as a number of nuclear facilities and nuclear-related facilities have been the target of drone attacks and cyberattacks in recent years. It is noteworthy that, as with other technologies, emerging technologies have both positive and negative attributes. However, as regards nuclear facilities, nuclear weapons systems, and radiological facilities, the emerging technologies have the capacity to cause extensive damage. The consequences, in terms impact on the environment, ecological systems, public health, and international security, could be devastating. The Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents have demonstrated the degree of harm caused, where there is disruption to normal operations of nuclear facilities. In assessing the threat posed to nuclear and radiological facilities, this dissertation also examines recent cases involving drone attacks and cyberattacks on nuclear power plants, and other critical infrastructure, in a number of countries across the globe, including France, Iran and the USA. Both state, and non-State actors (criminals, terrorists, proxy forces, and individuals) have been responsible for the attacks examined in this research study. This dissertation finds that emerging technologies, in particular drones and cyberattacks, pose a significant threat to nuclear facilities. This study also finds that the likelihood (probability) of such attacks taking place in the future is high, and the impact they would cause highly significant. It is, thus, recommended that the international community pays specific attention to the digital and physical security of nuclear facilities, nuclear weapons systems, and radiological facilities, to mitigate the threat posed, and to avert the catastrophic consequences that may ensue.