UN: Terrorist obtain elements of nuclear bomb

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WASHINGTON [MENL] -- Terrorist organizations around the world have succeeded in obtaining elements for the construction of a nuclear bomb.

A United Nations report said the organizations have obtained the material from nuclear reactors in the former Soviet Union. The report said the terrorist groups have been leading clients of traffickers in smuggled nuclear goods.

As a result, the UN said, more than 100 terrorist groups are now capable of developing an atomic bomb. The report, first disclosed by the London-based Guardian daily, said worldwide smuggling of radioactive materials has doubled since 1996.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), May 19, 2001


Leak shows nuclear trafficking doubled Kirsty Scott Guardian

Monday May 14, 2001

The worldwide smuggling of radioactive materials has reportedly doubled in the last five years, according to a leaked United Nations study, and there are now thought to be more than 100 terrorist organisations capable of developing a rudimentary atomic bomb.

The report, drawn up by the UN's terrorism prevention branch and detailed in the Sunday Herald newspaper, reveals that since 1993 there have been 550 recorded incidents of trafficking of nuclear materials across the globe. Most of the incidents involved materials such as radioactive scrap metal but one in 10 is said to have included weapons-grade plutonium or uranium.

The study quotes the head of the UN anti-terrorism unit, Alex Schmid, as warning that much of the nuclear material in the former Soviet republics is poorly protected and the risk of some being stolen is growing.

"Time might not be on our side," Mr Schmid is reported as saying. "The amount of plutonium in the world is increasing. Vigorous efforts need to be made to keep the nuclear genie in the bottle and out of the hands of terrorists."

Mr Schmid added: "Most of the weapons-usable nuclear materials in the kilogram range are stored in nearly 400 buildings which are not all guarded in the way they should be guarded. This quantity of dangerous but potentially precious materials offers temptation for adventurers and desperados."

The 40-page report, commissioned by the international atomic eneregy agency, claims that there are 130 terrorist organisations listed by the US department of state as posing a potential nuclear, chemical or biological threat.

They include 55 ethnic groups, 50 religious groups, 20 left-wing groups and five right-wing groups. The list includes Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida in Afghanistan and the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan.

A UN spokeswoman said yesterday that she could not confirm or deny the existence of the report or its findings.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), May 19, 2001.

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