Report: Nuclear, Bio Attacks Likely in Five Years

WASHINGTON — The odds that terrorists will attack a major city with nuclear or biological weapons are now higher than ever because of threats from rogue states, nuclear smuggling networks and the spread of weapons know-how, according to a bipartisan task force Congress created, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

"In our judgment, America's margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," said the draft report The Post cited from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.

"Without greater urgency and decisive action by the world community, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013," said the commission, which interviewed more than 200 experts since May in preparing its findings for Congress and President-elect Barack Obama.

The panel called on Obama to take "decisive action" after he becomes president on Jan. 20 to reduce the threat of an attack with weapons of mass destruction.

The report cited Pakistan as cause for serious concern because of terror networks that operate there, as well as the country's nuclear arsenal and history of political instability.

"Pakistan is our ally, but there is a grave danger it could also be an unwitting source of a terrorist attack on the United States — possibly with weapons of mass destruction," it said.

The report's reference to Pakistan came the day after India formally accused "elements" in Pakistan of being behind the bloody rampage in Mumbai last week that left at least 172 dead and close to 300 wounded.

Terrorists are more likely to secure materials for a biological attack than to buy or steal nuclear weapons, but the growing supply of nuclear material and technology on the global black market means that the nuclear threat also is rising, according to the commission.

Congress established the commission in 2007, fulfilling a recommendation from the 9/11 commission, which examined the causes of the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. Leading the panel are U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, a Democrat, and former U.S. Rep. James Talent of Missouri, a Republican.

The report calls for international action to secure unguarded nuclear weapons material such as uranium and plutonium and stepped up efforts to disrupt smuggling networks that sell nuclear technology.

The panel also urges making the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty much tougher, introducing strict penalties and bolstering the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections and enforce rules in a more aggressive manner.

It said Obama should adopt a tough approach to both Iran and North Korea and that the United States should lobby to ban the two states from adding to their stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium.

Both countries pose a threat in their own right, but their nuclear ambitions also increase the chance of triggering a dangerous arms race, the report said.  (newsmax, 12.02.2008)