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Homeland Security


NATO Press Release

PRAGUE, May 25  A leading expert on "nuclear terrorism" called on Sunday for the United States and Russia to lead a global campaign to down blend and eliminate world stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) saying they posed a major security threat.

"Highly enriched uranium is the biggest risk we face collectively from a nuclear terrorism perspective," William Potter told NATO parliamentarians.

Dr Potter, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, based in Monterey, California, told a meeting of the Science and Technology Committee of the NATO  Parliamentary Assembly, NATO's parliamentary arm.

He said the vast majority of HEU was in the United States and Russia, but that smaller quantities were scattered all over the world, much resulting from research nuclear reactors set up by the former Soviet Union.

"Terrorists would only need a small amount, we are talking here of grapefruit sized quantities," he said, adding the first line of defence against terrorists must be to ensure the security of the establishments where HEU is stored and the second line was border controls.

"We need to consolidate the material in a smaller number of states and down blend it," he said.

"Ideally, the United States and Russia should launch a joint global campaign to convert all research reactors to run on low-enriched uranium as part of a new phase of US-Russian non-proliferation cooperation," he said in a keynote address to the gathering.

The meeting took place within the framework of the NATO Assembly's spring session which is being held in the Municipal House in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic which opened on Sunday and runs until next Wednesday.

Background: The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, founded in 1955, brings together 214 national parliamentarians from the 19 NATO countries. Associate delegations from 17 nations also take part in most Assembly activities and meetings.

For more information:  Jonathan Clayton, NATO  PA spokesperson. Tel: (+420) 222 002 264 Mobile: (+420) 736 230 687 Email: kwilliams@nato-pa.int . Interviews can also be arranged with Dr Potter on how he believes terrorists could obtain and deliver such a device.

Full text of Dr. Potter's speech is available from the NATO Press Office, First Floor, Municipal House

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