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By Keir Leiber and Daryl Press

In this essay, published in International Security, political scientists Keir Lieber and Daryl Press make the argument that a state transfer of nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations is highly unlikely. The presumed benefit of a nuclear-armed state transferring such weapons to a terrorist organization is enabling a nuclear attack on an enemy while remaining anonymous and thus safe from retaliation. The authors show that the transferring state is highly unlikely to remain anonymous in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.