At The Brink Of Chemical
And Biological War
Pentagon: Threat Of Chemical And Bio Weapons Is Now
By Susanne M. Schafer
Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 25 nations have developed or may be
developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and the means to
deliver them, the Pentagon said today.
``The threat is neither far-fetched nor far off, and the threat will only
grow,'' said Defense Secretary William Cohen as he released a report on
such weapons of mass destruction.
The report focused on nations in the Middle East and North Africa and
singled out Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria as trouble spots. They ``are
aggressively seeking NBC weapons and increased missile capabilities'' and
constitute ``the most pressing threats'' to stability, the study said.
The Pentagon declined to list the 25 nations mentioned in the report,
calling the information classified.
If a conflict again breaks out in the Persian Gulf, the study predicted,
some form of the weapons is likely to be used, ``particularly since
several nations there have used them in the past.''
Cohen noted that headlines of the past several weeks have focused on the
United Nations struggle to verify what weapons exist in Iraq but that the
problem is much broader and could even afflict Americans on the home
``The front lines are no longer overseas. It can be in any American
city,'' he said, pointing out that criminal organizations or even
religious cults have the capability of using such weapons.
The defense secretary said the Pentagon has been working with the National
Guard to prepare it to respond quickly to domestic attacks from terrorists
and has been training local police and firef ighters to help as well.
The threat of such weapons has grown because it is no longer just
state-sponsored, the report said, and could come from terrorist
organizations or organized crime.
But the Pentagon welcomed ``a dramatic reduction in the threat from the
countries of the former Soviet Union. Six nations that might have become
nuclear powers -- Ukraine, Kazakstan, Belarus, North Korea, South Africa
and Iraq -- have been turned away from that path.''
The study, the second on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,
repeats to a large extent the report last year on nations such as Iraq,
Iran, North Korea and Libya.
The new report includes a section on Syria, noting its growing SCUD
supplies, many received from Iran and North Korea, as well as its ability
to produce chemical weapons and its infrastructure capable of supporting a
biological warfare program.
The Pentagon has had to beef up its detection, decontamination and
emergency response equipment to respond to a potential attack by chemical
and biological weapons and has requested $1 billion pay for the
Cohen said the latest crisis with Iraq has done the world a favor by
bringing attention to Iraq's attempts to build biological and chemical
weapons that could kill millions.

Email Homepage
Secret Weapons