Panel: Secret Nuclear Attacks Possible

Article excerpt

A Pentagon panel recently concluded an attacker could easily smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States and detonate it. The panel did not prescribe a specific strategy to thwart this threat but recommended an open-ended, multibillion-dollar program starting with upgrading U.S. intelligence, interdiction, and nuclear-weapon detection capabilities.

Warning that "nuclear weapons are oozing out of control," a task force of the Pentagon's Defense Science Board, a group of civilian advisers to the secretary of defense, said that greater action is needed to guard against a nuclear weapon being snuck into and used inside the United States. "Little has actually been done against the threat of clandestine nuclear attack," the task force found in a report released mid-September.

Addressing this threat requires "attention that is as serious as that devoted to missile defense," the report asserted. The Bush administration has devoted roughly $35 billion to developing missile defenses.

The U.S. intelligence community reported in December 2001 that a nuclear attack against U.S. territory would more likely be carried out via nonmissile delivery means than by missiles because such alternatives would be "less costly, easier to acquire, and more reliable and accurate. …