Colleen Dickson

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Jamie Frueh

Degree Award Date

Spring 2014


multi-causal framework, nuclear terrorism, terrorism


International Relations | Political Science | Terrorism Studies


Terrorism is defined by Brian Jenkins as "a campaign of violence designed to inspire fear to create an atmosphere of alarm that causes people to exaggerate the strength and importance of the terrorist movement."4 Nuclear terrorism is carrying out this campaign of violence through the occupation or seizure of nuclear facilities, armed attacks on nuclear weapons storage sites, theft of nuclear weapons, theft of nuclear material, dispersal of radioactive contaminants, manufacturing of devices, and the threat of detonation or actual detonation.5 For the purpose of my research, I will be focusing on nuclear terrorism as it involves obtaining nuclear material or a nuclear device and threat of detonation or actual detonation.

My research explores multi-causality6 theories typically used to explain state nuclear proliferation and applies them instead to nuclear terrorism. As nuclear terrorism has been established as a threat to the security and interests of states, regions, and the international community, the purpose of my research is to determine whether the multi-causal framework from the state proliferation scholars can be applied to terrorist groups in order to create a more operational, holistic methodology of understanding why and predicting how terrorist groups may "go nuclear" in order to more effectively eliminate the threat of nuclear terrorism. In my literature review, I explain the parameters of the state nuclear proliferation scholars' theory of multi-causality and why the framework should be applied to nuclear terrorism.