- BALTIMORE (Reuters) - A high-level
federal government commission has concluded that the United States is ill-prepared
to combat the growing threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
proliferation, the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.
- Commission members were particularly alarmed by the continuing
economic meltdown in Russia, said the newspaper, which obtained an early
copy of the panel's report, due out next week. The panel is headed by former
director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Deutch.
- The report cites seven instances since 1992 in which
weapons-usable fissile materials were stolen. Russia does not know how
much material it has, and it is increasingly vulnerable because of power
outages, unpaid guards and sporadic violence, the newspaper said.
- ``The No. 1 threat that needs attention is the continued
disintegration of Russia as a civil society,'' one commission member told
the Sun. This member ranked the Russian problem as high, if not higher,
than the threat to the United States from ballistic missiles that was cited
by a previous panel headed by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
- Other dangers noted were those resulting from China's
export of missiles and dangerous technology; efforts by more than a dozen
extremist groups to get nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; North
Korea and other hostile states with the ability to manufacture such weapons;
and instability in the Middle East, and South and East Asia.
- The problem is made ever more complex by the growth of
technology that can be used both commercially and in weapons, according
to the commission.
- But the federal government's ability to respond to this
threat is hamstrung by a series of policy and bureaucratic obstacles, the
- ``The commission finds that the U.S. government is not
effectively organized to combat proliferation,'' it says in a summary of
the 140-plus page report.
- The Sun reported that few government agencies escaped
criticism from the commission, which found in general that the United States
is plagued by inadequate technology to cope with the problem.
- The panel urged the president to name a National Director
for Combating Proliferation.
- The 18-month-old panel was created by Congress to assess
how the government is dealing with the proliferation threat and to make