Monday, June 27, 2005

Study: World at Risk for Major Attack

Source: NY Times by way of the NucNews email list. (links added)

Published: June 22, 2005
Filed at 9:58 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The world faces an estimated 50
percent chance of a nuclear, biological, chemical
or radiological attack over the next five years,
according to national security analysts surveyed
for a congressional study released Wednesday.

Using a poll of 85 nonproliferation and national
security experts, the report also estimated the
risk of attack by weapons of mass destruction at
as high as 70 percent over the coming decade.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee surveyed
analysts around the world in late 2004 and early
this year to determine what they thought was the
threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.

The study was commissioned by committee Chairman
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., whose nonproliferation
efforts in Congress have been credited with
helping the states of the former Soviet Union
lessen their stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons.

''The bottom line is this: For the foreseeable
future, the United States and other nations will
face an existential threat from the intersection
of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,''
Lugar said in a statement.

Committee aides sent out surveys asking
respondents the percentage probability that a
biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological
attack would occur over the next five and 10

''If one compounds these answers, the odds of some
type of WMD attack occurring during the next
decade are extremely high,'' the report said,
using the acronym for weapons of mass destruction.

The study said the risks of biological or chemical
attacks were comparable to or slightly higher than
the risk of a nuclear attack. However, the study
found a ''significantly higher'' risk of a
radiological attack.

It also said:

--Three-fourths of those surveyed said one or two
new countries would acquire nuclear weapons during
the next five years, and as many as five new
countries could have such weapons over the next 10

--Four-fifths of those surveyed said their country
was not spending enough money on nonproliferation

--Survey respondents also agreed that
terrorists -- rather than governments -- were more
likely to carry out a nuclear attack.


Of course, the process of making things safer isn't helped by proposals like the one criticized here.



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