Before Sum of all Fears was written, there was a Princeton undergraduate who was on the verge of flunking out. He was on probation back in 1976 when he proposed an extraordinary research paper. He bet Dr. Freeman Dyson he could design a Nagasaki style atomic weapon from public sources. Since his paper was classified and he got an A+ for the class, one assumes he struck close to home. Who was the man? John Aristotle Phillips that is who. He and his brother now run one of the leading online security companies with database mining burrowing into 153 countries.
As the US Strategic Bombing Survey points out, a nuclear weapon is a force multiplier. The 18 kilotons released by the bomb Enola Gay dropped on Hiroshima would have required: "220 B-29s carrying 1,200 tons of incendiary bombs, 400 tons of high-explosive bombs, and 500 tons of anti-personnel fragmentation bombs, if conventional weapons, rather than an atomic bomb, had been used."
Which is why many nations tread carefully when trying to talk North Korea out of its nuclear delusions. Why Israel has now apparently carried out two precision attacks to deny enemies a chance at joining the nuclear club. And why the US is trying to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. Anyone who thinks a country with nuclear aspirations is a tiny threat is a fool.