Has there Ever Been an Attack on a Nuclear Power Plant?

I came across this article and it got me wondering

Has there ever been a terrorist attack on an NPP? I’m not talking about stuxnet or Babylon either. A breach of the reactor core could be deadly. Even something small like damage to the cooling system could result in a forced outage.

Wikipedia has this to say:

The cite is a Times article that I do not have permission to access.

In Britain the Nuclear Police are armed with Glocks and Heckler und Koch Assault Rifles — plus they have 30mm cannon on ships — all thanks to the medium hard left cabinet minister, lover of The People and Loon-for-All-Seasons, the late Tony Benn aka Anthony Wedgewood Benn, ci-devant Viscount Stansgate ( his father was an ennobled Liberal MP before WWII and by all accounts just as tiresome ).
We rarely see a cop with a gun, but then again we rarely wander around nuclear installations either.

Moderator Note

Claverhouse, I don’t know why you seem to be unable to post in GQ without unnecessary political commentary. I’m making this a note because it’s not that serious. However, as I have before, I strongly suggest that you either confine yourself to strictly factual posts in this forum or refrain from posting in it at all. If you continue to do this, you will be at risk of losing your posting privileges.

General Questions Moderator

Back to facts, this happened a few years ago.

Pesky nuns…

How did anyone get into such a plant without being shot many times?


I don’t know if this counts, but in 2007a group of 4 armed men tried to break into a nuclear plant in south africa and shot a security guard in the process.

There is speculation that it was terrorism or an attempt to steal nuclear materials, but there is also speculation that they were Chinese spies trying to steal technology. If the latter, I don’t know if I’d call that terrorism or an attack on a nuclear plant.

I seem to remember a German or French ecoterrorist who, IIRC, launched a rocket at a European NPP with minor damage. I cannot remember his name or what group he was with.

Interestingly, going by the subject hed alone–I can think of only twice that nuclear plants at all were attacked, both pre-fueling and both by Israel.

In the us I suspect they would need either an inside man or seriously heavy weapons to succeed . I would bet that every nuclear plant has a swat team on speed dial for just this eventuality. My biggest fear for nuclear is North Korea selling tech to the highest bidders, either materials to make a dirty bomb or a complete device.

The department of energy has a sniper team that, in sniper competitions, can hold its own against delta force and seal team 6’s sniper teams.

You aren’t wrong about North Korea. North Korea has sold nuclear technology to Libya, Syria, Myanmar and iran. Possibly other countries. That is a big reason they keep up their nuclear program. Not only is it a security blanket against invasion, it is an opportunity to make billions of dollars and empower the enemies of the US government by giving them nuclear weapons too.


I once contracted with a DOE uranium enrichment facility to build a new video recording/editing studio/suite. The uniformed security I saw wore holstered Beretta 9mm pistols and had close at hand either H&K MP5s or M-16A2s.

It was a bit odd as the buildings I worked in I had mostly had full access, yet the loading docks were restricted and we had to have an armed escort to watch as we loaded/unloaded our truck. And to accompany us as we were driven across the facility from the building with their old video suite to the building where the new one was going in.

Iraq and Syria I assume?

Has Israel ever attacked a NPP in Iran? I know they did some industrial sabotage but I have no idea if they have attacked a plant yet.

According to published reports the security fence had recently been upgraded and the sensors were too sensitive-animals kept setting it off. So the guards turned off the sensors… They planned to rely on the TV cameras-once they were repaired. The first work orders had been issued six months previously and the work was still waiting to be done. After the intruders got tired of writing on the walls of the building and banging on the walls with hammers, they had to go find a door and bang on that to attract any attention to get let in. Embarrassing all around.

The OP contains the word “terrorist” which isn’t in the thread title, and is rather significant to the question.

It’s a bit of a hijack, but the wikipedia article I linked to upthread also has a list of military attacks.

I test and inspect a few fire suppression systems at a nuclear power plant. In the last few years, security measures have been augmented. It would be very difficult for a group of terrorist to get close enough to the reactor to do any damage

The huge vulnerability at many nuke plants in the Chicago area are the tanks of jet fuel for the jet engine powered generators that are intended to go to full power very quickly to handle surge demands. Hopefully they’ve hardened them, or at least buried them, post-9/11. A terrorist could potentially set one off with explosive rounds from a distance.