On Dec. 3, a congressionally mandated commission released a report offering 15 recommendations to help the U.S. government improve its ability to prevent and respond to threats of biological and nuclear terrorism. Drawing even more attention and criticism than the recommendations, however, was the commission's prediction that terrorists were likely to carry out an attack with biological or nuclear weapons somewhere in the world within the next five years. (Continue)
In an Oct. 27 statement to the UN General Assembly, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei warned that the potential that terrorists could acquire nuclear and radiological material “remains a grave threat.” He noted that incidents involving the theft or loss of such material “is disturbingly high.” (Continue)
Serious consequences await those that aid terrorists in acquiring or using unconventional weapons under a new policy that national security adviser Stephen Hadley has broadcast. The Bush administration, however, is not clarifying whether the punishment could include U.S. nuclear weapons use, an ambiguity that suits some experts but troubles others. (Continue)
Congressional leaders recently announced the formation of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, appointing nine commissioners on May 16.
The commission is the result of legislation Congress passed last year to fully implement the recommendations of the independent commission that investigated the September 11 terrorist attacks. (See ACT, March 2007.) The commission will be responsible for assessing programs intended to secure all nuclear weapons-usable material, evaluating the roles and structure of relevant government departments and other actors, promoting coordination between the United States and international regimes, and analyzing the threat posed by black market networks and the effectiveness of the U.S. response. (Continue)
The UN Security Council April 25 adopted Resolution 1810 extending for an additional three years a council committee tasked with monitoring, facilitating, and promoting national efforts to prevent other states and terrorists from acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Resolution 1810 also provides for potentially enhancing the role of the committee in providing assistance to states to carry out their obligations not to contribute to illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), related materials, and delivery systems. (Continue)
A Review of On Nuclear Terrorism by Michael Levi.
During a March 19 speech marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush warned of consequences for the early removal of U.S. forces from that country. These, he said, could include the possibility that a withdrawal would indirectly help al Qaeda acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to indicate that Iran was pursuing the development of weapons-grade uranium, a claim contrary to international inspection findings. (Continue)
In late November, delegates from around the world convened in Edinburgh, Scotland, to address the dangers posed by the trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials. (Continue)
Interviewed by Miles Pomper and Peter Crail
On June 11, some 38 partner states of the nearly one-year-old Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism convened for the third meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, to discuss future prospects. In a simultaneous meeting, representatives from close to 30 countries attended the initiative’s Conference on International Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement in Miami, Florida. (Continue)