NBC Weapons: June 9, 2002

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Efforts are under way to reduce the chances that a terrorist group could obtain a weapon of mass destruction, and many are calling for those efforts to be accelerated. Russia has hundreds of tons of weapons-grade Highly Enriched Uranium, and the US has been paying to have it converted into reactor fuel. Many are pushing the US Congress to increase funding for this program, to double the amount of HEU converted to reactor fuel each year. Congress is concerned over how much of the money is already disappearing into the pockets of corrupt officials and how much more will disappear if the flow of money becomes a flood. While weapons of mass destruction are usually well guarded, the materials that could be used to build more of them are often guarded by no more than "a night watchman and a chain link fence". Technology for nuclear weapons is steadily seeping into a broader range of governments, and will sooner or later reach into non-governmental groups. Pakistan has shown the ability to build nuclear weapons, while Iran (named by the US as the Number 1 Sponsor of Terrorism for 2001) and North Korea (desperate for cash and with no scruples about selling any weapon to anyone) are pushing aggressively to achieve such weapons. Terrorist groups are determined to use chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons to achieve their goals. Many groups are convinced that terrorism is the answer to their problems, and that only weapons of mass destruction could force national governments to submit to their demands. One group was found with cyanide gas and maps of the tunnels surrounding the US embassy in Rome. Terrorist groups are actively seeking major sources of money. Al Qaeda profited from the sale of diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone, while Hezbollah profited from dealing in the diamonds mined by rebels in the Democratic Congo.--Stephen V Cole


 


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