The Cost of Living

How much should we spend to save an innocent child's life--and don't say it's priceless.

Issue: Spring 2004

Nuclear terrorism presents an unparalleled threat to the United States. The economic impact alone of a nuclear terrorist attack would undoubtedly be staggering. Estimates of the direct economic cost of one potential scenario--a crude nuclear device detonated in lower Manhattan--range well over $1 trillion. Even this estimate cannot capture the full tragedy of such a scenario, which could include half a million deaths, a zone of total destruction one mile wide, and radiation extending for miles around the blast's center. For the protectors of America's national interest, no single issue is more urgent and frightening.

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