Osama bin Laden Said
To Have Acquired
Tactical Nuclear Weapons
By Michael Binyon
The Times (London)
LONDON - Osama bin Laden, the exiled millionaire Saudi terrorist leader, has acquired tactical nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Central Asian states, according to a leading Arabic newspaper.
Bin Laden, accused by America of masterminding the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, has established a network of influential friends in Central Asia and Ukraine, according to the London-based al-Hayat.
Citing reliable diplomatic sources in Central Asia, the paper says that the Afghan-based terrorist has used this network to get hold of weapons from the former Soviet republics. It did not say how many weapons he had obtained or if he had paid for them.
The Foreign Office said Tuesday that it had no information about the reports, but added that bin Laden was a dangerous terrorist and all his threats were treated seriously.
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies expressed scepticism, saying that it would be impossible to deliver such a weapon to a target without missiles, launchers and sites, as well as access to the codes and procedures needed to activate a nuclear device.
A spokesman said it was likely that criminals in the cash-strapped former Soviet republics had agreed to sell weapons, but these could be used only as radiological bombs scattering radiation if exploded conventionally in a car or truck-bomb attack.