IAEA warns of ‘Dirty Bomb’ threat to a major world capital

November 21st, 2007 - 2:37 pm ICT by admin  

Edinburgh, Nov.21 (ANI): The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has warned that terrorists might detonate a “dirty bomb” in a major city sooner than later.
William Nye, Home Office director of counter-terrorism and intelligence, told delegates that al-Qaida is actively seeking high-grade uranium and plutonium in order to detonate a “dirty bomb” in major cities such as London or Washington.
“As the terrorists look for the next spectacular attack, we know that al-Qaida in Iraq is calling on nuclear scientists to join in the jihad. Combating this threat requires international cooperation,” The Scotsman quoted Nye, as saying.
Peter Jenkins, Britain’s chief representative to the Vienna-based IAEA, told the conference that while it is not known if terrorists have acquired nuclear materials, the threat is real.
“Nuclear terrorism has been recognised as a genuine threat since the 1970s, and we have evidence that al-Qaida has been trying to acquire material since the 1990s. But since 9/11 the risk has become a widespread international concern,” Jenkins said.
Steven Aoki, a counter-terrorism official at the US Energy Department, called for improved scrutiny of radioactive material used for industrial and academic purposes, and to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists.
“This is a major problem with a potentially large amount of radioactive material out there and unaccounted for. We need to get hold of it and store it securely,” Aoki said.
The IAEA warning came at a four-day international conference being held on nuclear trafficking at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Around 350 experts from nearly 70 countries are assessing anti-terrorist programmes and discussing how to combat any threat involving nuclear material.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference also heard that the UN agency is helping China guard against attack at next year’s Beijing Olympics.
In August, the IAEA reported that there were more than 250 reported thefts or losses of nuclear material around the world in 2006, an increase of about 200 percent from 2002.
Most of the increase was due to better reporting and understanding by member states, but the IAEA also said that of the 150 incidents of “unauthorised possession” in 2006, 14 involved criminal activities, including illegal possession, movement or attempts to illegally trade these materials.
The conference also touched on fears that nuclear material could be supplied to terrorists from Iran, which is under Western pressure to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
The conference is set to run until Thursday. (ANI)

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