Our society has fixed its concern for national security on the threat of nuclear weapons. Developing nations all over the world have gradually acquired these weapons much to the dismay of the U.S. government, yet there is a larger threat at hand. Each country that acquires its own nuclear arsenal is merely insuring itself against the threat of a nuclear attack. The detonation of one nuclear weapon (in a country which possesses nukes) is to assure nuclear retaliation from the country which was fired upon. This mutual deterrence is an important safeguard. Any entity possessing both nukes and territory will most likely be dissuaded from firing first because of the inherent risk.
The exception to this rule is a stateless group. Langewiesche explains that these groups "offer none of the retaliatory targets that have so far underlain the nuclear peace--no permanent infrastructure to protect, no capital city, and indeed no country called home" (17). Since they do not possess a specific territory these factions lack the threat of retaliation. Langewiesche claims that these small cells require "ever more dramatic acts in their war against the West," (17) which heighten the likelihood that they would use nuclear weapons.
Fortunately it is no easy task to acquire such weapons. During the era of nuclear proliferation, each nation is experiencing the necessity of arming oneself with a nuclear arsenal to ensure mutual deterrence. This "keeping up with the Jones's- phenomenon has made Hiroshima style fission devices a highly sought after commodity. These devices would be difficult to acquire or build, and pre-built devices are considered national assets. They would undoubtedly be heavily guarded and monitored, and they wouldn't likely be sold. .
The more realistic threat of a nuclear attack would not involve missiles for this reason. It would involve "dirty bombs- to evoke hysteria by contaminating an area with radiation, or "garage bombs- made with plutonium or more likely highly enriched uranium.