Monday, February 02, 2004

Dirty bomb warning

The US is warning Pakistan and India that they are "very vulnerable" to a dirty bomb attack:

Terrorists could steal some of the vast stocks of unsecured radioactive material in India and Pakistan to launch a "dirty bomb" attack which could scuttle South Asian peace moves, a US Senate committee heard Wednesday.

"The first act of nuclear terrorism will be a momentously bad event," political analyst Michael Krepon, told the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

"In tense regions like South Asia, the detonation of a 'dirty bomb' could scuttle a peace process and generate severe pressures for escalation," he said.

US security officials have warned they are increasingly concerned that terrorists seeking to cause panic and a severe economic shockwave could use "dirty bombs" -- conventional explosives packed with radioactive material.

Krepon, founder of the Henry L Stimson center think-tank, warned the committee in a hearing on India and Pakistan peace moves that radiological matter was easily available in South Asia.

"Material that can be used to make dirty bombs resides in many poorly guarded hospitals and civilian research labs in India and Pakistan," he said.

"These facilities are very susceptible to 'insider' threats, such as a security guard or a hospital worker who is sympathetic to an extremist group and who aids in the theft of this material."

Krepon warned India and Pakistan were "very vulnerable" to the dirty bomb threat, as was the United States, and urged Washington policymakers to help both nations secure radioactive materials.


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