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29 November 2004

Terrorists Interested in Unconventional Weapons, CIA Says

But report concludes conventional tactics are still favored

The Central Intelligence Agency sent a report to Congress in November noting that many terrorist groups and non-state actors around the world are interested in using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons in the future.

An unclassified version of the report, posted on the CIA's Web site November 23, says that any attacks that might occur in the future would likely be "small-scale, incorporating improvised delivery means and easily produced or obtained chemicals, toxins, or radiological substances."

The report, which covers the six-month period between July and December 2003, says terrorists are still more likely to turn to bombings and shootings to accomplish their goals. But it also cites several groups of mujahidin associated with al-Qaida who have planned, but not carried out, attacks in Europe using easily produced chemicals. Simple chemical agents or toxins "could cause hundreds of casualties and widespread panic if used in multiple simultaneous attacks," according to the analysis.

The report, "Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Advanced Conventional Munitions," says that the increasing availability of nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic missile technologies make it ever more difficult to stem the proliferation of WMD and the means to deliver them.

"Nuclear fuel-cycle and weapons-related technologies have spread to the point that, from a technical view, additional states may be able to produce sufficient fissile material and to develop the capability to weaponize it," the report states.

As developing nations broaden their chemical industrial base and produce pesticides, for example, they may than have at least a "latent chemical warfare capability," according to this analysis.

The report examines acquisition patterns for Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria.

During the reporting period, Iran continued to seek foreign materials, training, equipment and know-how from countries such as Russia, China, North Korea and unidentified European nations. The report also cites the International Atomic Energy Agency's finding that Iran failed to report the import and chemical conversion of uranium compounds, the separation of plutonium from irradiated uranium targets, the enrichment of uranium using centrifuges and lasers, or to provide design information for its numerous fuel cycle facilities.

The CIA said it could draw no comprehensive or final conclusions from ongoing analysis about Iraq's pre-war WMD program.

The report discusses Libya's progress in the strategic areas of nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missiles. In particular, it notes Libya's intention to eliminate its nuclear and chemical weapons programs.

Turning to Pyongyang, the report states: "we continue to monitor and assess North Korea's nuclear weapons efforts amidst diplomatic efforts to arrange a second round of Six Party Talks."

The CIA's assessment of Syria includes the observation that Damascus continues to seek chemical weapons-related technology from foreign sources.

The report also examined key supplier nations including Russia, North Korea and China.

Russia is cited for continued lax enforcement of export controls during the reporting period and, during the second half of 2003, the report says North Korea continued to export significant ballistic missile-related equipment, components, materials and technical expertise to the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa.

The report also points to U.S-imposed sanctions against several Chinese entities in 2003, including the China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) and the China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation.

The full text of the unclassified summary of the report may viewed on the Internet at http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/721_reports/july_dec2003.htm - chemical

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

This page printed from: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2004&m=November&x=20041129182046sjhtrop0.4447748&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html

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