In my story(setting--modern day), a group of terrorist got one nuclear device from North Korea(50-100 kiloton). Their goal is to destablize global economy so the common people in first world nation (include China and Russia) will lose their job and bank saving, causing something that looks like the Great Depression, but global. Where should they strike to accomplish that goal?

  • $\begingroup$ A terrorist wants some form of political change, usually by forcing a governmental overreaction that creates popular sympathy. The danger for a terrorist is that unanticipated consequences will occur that prevent the desired change or destroy their organization. Unless a terrorist can clearly define how their attack will both further their goal and generate sympathy, they won't waste their time on it. A nihilist might want to revel in those unanticipated consequences of impoverishing billions, but a terrorist likely would not.. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Nov 9, 2019 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ Destroy enough fossil fuel reserves (oil & coal) & you might have an effect, there are microbes (used to clean up oil slicks) that might conceivably be jiggered for purpose, big advantage of that method (if you can get it to work) is no one will know who did it, if you don't brag about it. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Nov 10, 2019 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ What if by "destroy" I could also mean an airburst that trigger a massive EMP strike like in CoD Modern Warfare 2? $\endgroup$
    – user39178
    Nov 10, 2019 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ If you want EMP there are plenty of questions already asked about that in here, just go look at them .... but an emp (on its own) wouldn't really do that much permanent damage, you can even argue it would 'stimulate' the economy, plenty of work replacing fried components, lots of sales of replacement components, but to get that kind of emp effect you need a nuclear weapon anyway, so the emp effects become negligible & of no consequence compared to the other effects it was propagated from, a nuclear blast. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Nov 10, 2019 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ I can think of a few things but I'm not sure it would be wise to speculate $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Nov 10, 2019 at 9:24

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, you cannot bomb Wall Street and crash the economy any more than you can destroy the internet by plugging out a computer. Turning Fort Knox into a pile of rubble would also not suddenly make the United States a third world country - the gold would still be federal property, even in its molten, irradiated state.

I can think of a few potential targets that could destabilise the world economy as a side effect, and none of them are particularly creative.

The Pentagon

That would certainly start a war. You can detect the origin of the nuclear material from the fall-out; within a couple hours it would have been identified as North Korean. A declaration of war would soon follow, and if the right people in important seats screw up the diplomacy, it would become a world war. Which would, in turn, wreck the global economy.

Of course the Pentagon itself was designed to withstand nukes and the attack itself would not kill many more people than 9/11 did - it is the principle that matters.

Jerusalem, Rome, or Mecca

If one billion people became a bit depressed at once because their most sacred religious leaders or sites were blown to bits, it will impact their spending habits. Even just uncertainty over their potential changes in spending would upset the stock exchange, make currencies rise and fall against each other, and while it's possible some countries end up profiting off it, in the short term there would be trouble across the board.


This too would mostly be indirect. Taking out Berlin would quite devastate German economy, which is the powerhouse of the EU, which itself is a global player. But here it is more the idea that a safe, non-offensive city leagues from violent wars and completely without controversy: the idea that such a place could be turned to ash in a day because some terrorist group/nation wanted it; that would upset people everywhere. And again, upset people in large numbers can wreck an economy that's based on speculation the way our global economy is.


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