SLUG: 1-01297 OTL (S) Terrorism and WMD 03-21-03.rtf
TYPE=ON THE LINE
NUMBER=1-01297 SHORT #1
TITLE=TERRORISM AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
EDITOR=OFFICE OF POLICY -- 619-0037
CONTENT= INSERTS ARE IN AUDIO SERVICES & DALET
THEME: UP, HOLD UNDER AND FADE
Host: This is On the Line and I'm --------.
Host: The United States and its allies are confronting Iraq in large part out of concern that Saddam Hussein might arm terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. There is also concern that terrorists like al-Qaida are trying to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons on their own.
Anthony Wier is a research associate at Harvard University. He says that fears that terrorists might obtain a nuclear weapon are justified:
Wier: The risk that such a nuclear attack by terrorists [would happen] is much lower than say a chemical or biological or even a radiological [weapon], like a dirty bomb. But the problem is that the consequence is so much higher that when you balance the threat with the consequence, you have to take a great concern. The risk is out there because there is so much nuclear material out there and the security of it is questionable enough that we have to worry about it.
Host: Jon Wolfsthal is deputy director of the Non-proliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He says that there is a much greater likelihood that terrorists could construct a conventional bomb laden with radioactive material, known as a "dirty bomb":
Wolfsthal: Groups are out there, states are out there, that would love to get their hands on a nuclear weapon. But it is a weapon of terror, at least in this context. And what they really want is for the evening news broadcast to begin with a nuclear attack so that people start fleeing from their homes, you have traffic jams. And that's why we worry a lot more about the dirty bomb, because we know that those materials are much more accessible than the types of materials that you need for a full-up atomic weapon.
Thomas Donnelly is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He says that while a radiological weapon may do less damage than conventional bombs, terrorists want it for psychological impact:
Donnelly: This is meant to be a weapon of terror. This is not a weapon that serves a tactical or any other military purpose. The purpose of it is to just scare the pants off of Americans in particular. And all of these things essentially change the geopolitical equation and it's why these small and otherwise powerless groups are such a concern to all Americans these days.
Host: Tom Donnelly says that while it may not be possible to safeguard all radiological material, it is possible to stop the terrorists. For On the Line, I'm Eric Felten.
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