Nuclear terrorism refers to any person or persons detonating a nuclear weapon as an act of terrorism (i.e., illegal or immoral use of violence for a political or religious cause). Some definitions of nuclear terrorism include the sabotage of a nuclear facility and/or the detonation of a radiological device, colloquially termed a dirty bomb, but consensus is lacking. In legal terms, nuclear terrorism is an offense committed if a person unlawfully and intentionally "uses in any way radioactive material … with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury; or with the intent to cause substantial damage to property or to the environment; or with the intent to compel a natural or legal person, an international organization or a State to do or refrain from doing an act", according to the 2005 United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
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The possibility of terrorist organizations using nuclear weapons (including those of a small size, such as those contained within suitcases) is something which is known of within U.S. culture, and at times previously discussed within the political settings of the U.S. It is considered plausible that terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon. However, despite thefts and trafficking of small amounts of fissile material, all low-concern and less than Category III Special nuclear material (SNM), there is no credible evidence that any terrorist group has succeeded in obtaining Category I SNM, the necessary multi-kilogram critical mass amounts of weapons grade plutonium required to make a nuclear weapon.