Not just countries, but big companies or even a very rich individual could get a nuclear weapon in the next few years. NATO's Michael Rühle writes in IP Journal about the nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb:
To profit, he created a network of commercial relationships - which ultimately included over a thousand companies - as well as his own production facilities in Malaysia, South Africa and Turkey. This privatization of nuclear proliferation has allowed several countries to approach the threshold of nuclear status, a development that has significantly altered the international security landscape. It is now clear that nuclear proliferation can also take place outside of the international state system - the very system on which the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is built. This development is bound to ensure unpleasant surprises in the future. Whether Khan's proliferation network has been completely dismantled is not entirely clear. What is clear, however, is that the commercialization of nuclear proliferation continues.
Scary eh? Yes, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is so 20th century. We probably need a Bond movie or new TV show by the creators of 24/Homeland to raise some awareness and reform intelligence services. Many European countries still don't have intelligence services with operational divisions.
We also need to build the trust that is required to achieve transatlantic intelligence sharing, which is a precondition since nuclear proliferation involves so many actors around the world and only cooperation enables us to piece together the puzzle and prevent the next 9/11, which will be much bigger in destruction and political consequences. A transatlantic TV show with "social viewing" and debate on Social Media could generate the common European-American public discourse necessary for proactive policies. (I am only half joking since "24" and "Homeland" were taken quite seriously by Westpoint cadets and Foreign Affairs magazine.)
So here is a script idea: The spoiled son of a Greek billionaire is angry that he now has to pay taxes and wants to nuke Berlin in retaliation.
Not sophisticated enough? Okay, let's add one more layer: He decides to create his own island state in the eastern Mediterranean, where lots of natural gas has recently been discovered and claimed by various nations. For protection against German tax collectors, Hezbollah, Cyprus and Turkey and for general blackmail he decides to get a nuclear weapon, just as North Koreas' Kim dynasty has. He tries to buy a nuke from them, from Pakistan and Iran, but does not succeed in the first couple of episodes. In the process, however, he meets many middlemen, who help him to build a nuclear weapon and long-range missile by buying the various components from hundreds of companies from around the world. Claire Danes, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Daniel Craig, Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Vogel and/or August Diehl are starring. Anders Fogh Rasmussen plays himself in a cameo.
Endnote: Michael Rühle's article focuses on the "commercialization of security policy" and concludes:
The world lives under the increasing primacy of the economy. For the West, this is a double challenge. Divergent interests and reduced military capabilities militate against collective approaches to new security risks; yet the primacy of economic and energy interests also creates new rivalries which could acquire a military dimension of their own. For alliances such as NATO and the EU, hard times are about to begin. To play their role as consultation and early-warning bodies for their member states, these institutions would have to become fora for a much broader security dialogue, in which the relationship between economic developments, resources, and military issues can be analyzed and discussed. Initial steps have been taken in this regard, but fears of "militarizing" non-military issues are still too high to allow for a thorough debate. Moreover, in line with the logic of the primacy of economics, a large part of political expertise in the West has now moved into economics and business. By contrast, the traditional "strategic community" is shrinking and increasingly less able to make their voice heard in the security debate. The West's political leadership should seek to counteract this trend.