Cold War over; Nuclear Threat Not Weapons Capability Spreading to Other Nations, CIA Official Says

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POLITICAL INSTABILITY since the fall of the Soviet Union has raised questions about the security of nuclear weapons, a CIA official said Tuesday.

"A few countries whose interests are inimical to the U.S. are attempting to acquire nuclear weapons - Iran and Iraq being two of our greatest concerns," said David Osias, a CIA national intelligence officer for strategic programs.

"Should one of these countries or a terrorist group acquire one or a few nuclear weapons, they could deter U.S. political or military actions, threaten or attack deployed U.S. forces or allies or possibly conduct an attack against the U.S.," Osias told Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

Lugar is a presidential hopeful and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on European affairs.

Lugar, the only subcommittee member present for the first of two days of hearings, said he doubted if Congress, President Bill Clinton's administration or even the Russian government was devoting enough attention to the problem.

"It's a governmental failure," Lugar said Tuesday. "I called these hearings to elevate us so that we all are up to speed."

Congress is in recess until next month.

Russian defense officials now maintain a "generally effective control" over its nuclear arsenal, Osias said. …