- WASHINGTON (United Press
International via COMTEX) - The consensus view within the U.S. government
is that the al Qaida terrorist group has acquired lower-level radioactive
substances that ordinary explosives could spread as contaminants, The Washington
Post reported Sunday.
- Although such a so-called dirty bomb could cause a more
modest number of deaths than an actual nuclear weapon, it could have a
considerable impact as a "weapon of psychological terror," an
unidentified senior government specialist told the newspaper.
- President Bush, after a briefing by the CIA, ordered
his national security team to give nuclear terrorism priority over every
other threat to the United States, the newspaper reported.
- As a consequence, the report said, the Bush administration
has installed hundreds of sophisticated radioactivity detectors at U.S.
border inspection points and around the nation's capital. National laboratories
have been ordered to develop even more sensitive detectors, according to
- The elite commando unit, the Delta Force, has been placed
on standby alert to seize any nuclear materials that are detected, the
- The heightened fears of the use of nuclear materials
along with reported threats of a terrorist attack bigger than Sept. 11
explain the decision to maintain a cadre of senior federal managers on
standby outside of Washington, the Post said of its initial disclosure
of the precautions on Friday.
- The CIA told Bush at one point of not only the published
arrests by Pakistan of two former nuclear scientists who visited reputed
terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, but of a third Pakistani scientist
who, the newspaper said, tried to sell a nuclear bomb to Libya.
- The likeliest source for terrorists of nuclear materials,
the paper said, was the crumbling nuclear industry infrastructure in the
former Soviet Union, despite the insistence of Russian officials that all
such materials are accounted for.