December 7, 2008 12:29:28 pm
Warning that terrorists are ‘likely’ to use nuclear or biological weapons in the next five years if urgent action is not taken, an official US commission has said Pakistan is the weakest link in world security.
The report, prepared by a bi-partisan Commission under orders from the US Congress, said without urgent action, “it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013” and warned the incoming US administration of Barack Obama that “America’s margin of safety is shrinking”.
Quoting officials from Obama’s transition team, Pakistani daily ‘The News’ said the report titled ‘World at Risk’, which was to be presented to the White House, highlighted the main threats as proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and terrorism.
According to the Pakistani daily, it warned of the rapid spread of atomic technology in countries like Pakistan and Iran and poor security in biotech industries worldwide.
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“Although Pakistan is a close US ally, its inability to control swaths of territory, violent political instability, and a nuclear standoff with neighbouring India make the Islamic nation the most lethal tinderbox of all,” it said.
“Were one to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan,” the report was quoted as saying.
“There is a grave danger that it could also be an unwitting source of a terrorist attack on the United States, possibly with weapons of mass destruction,” it added.
The commission said terrorists were more likely to be able to obtain biological than nuclear weapons, with anthrax a particular danger, and warned that threats were “evolving faster than our multi-layered response”.
While former Senator Bob Graham called Pakistan the “intersection of the perfect storm”, the Pakistani daily quoted several Congressmen and Senators who said the chances of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear or biological weapons were getting “thinner” and that “it’s time to retire the fear card”.
The commission was tasked by Congress in 2007 as part of the security response to the hijacked airliner attacks of September 11, 2001 against New York and the Pentagon.
The main recommendations of the commission, aimed principally at the incoming Obama government, include securing of nuclear and biological material in Pakistan and reign in a growing Asian arms race.
It has also recommended safeguarding of uranium and plutonium stockpiles, stepping up measures against nuclear smuggling rings, toughening the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ensuring access to nuclear fuel for countries committed to developing only peaceful atomic technology and urgently tightening security in domestic bio-sphere institutes and laboratories.
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