BRUSSELS - More than 50 officials and experts from 15 countries, which included ambassadors and representatives of European institutions and NATO
paticipated in a brainstorming seminar, led by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS
Prominent figures included, European Union's foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and the former United Nations chief weapons inspector in
Iraq, Rolf Ekeus.
The scenario: al Qaeda gets its hands on highly enriched uranium from the former Soviet Union and detonates a crude nuclear device at the NATO
headquaters in Brussels. Killing 40,000 people instantly, and injuring 300,000 also taking a view at the probable possibility of a far higher number
of casualties, as a radiation cloud sweps into the Netherlands and Germany.
The prominent question was: "The day after a nuclear attack...what would we wish we had done and why aren't we doing it now?"
The seminar also focussed on the former Soviet Union, where large stocks of nuclear materials are not properly guarded.
"A terrorist nuclear attack on US or European interests is consistent with al-Qaeda's objectives and its profile."
"It is well within (al-Qaeda's) operational capabilities to recruit the technical expertise needed to build a crude nuclear device," the authors of
the scenario claimed.
Graham Allison, an assistant defense secretary in the Clinton administration, told NATO officials last year that a group like the al Qaeda Islamic
militant network had the motive and opportunity to launch a "nuclear 9/11." The best defense was to control weapons and fissile material at source,
Michele Flournoy, a senior adviser at the CSIS and former Pentagon official, said the participants concluded that once terrorists have obtained deadly
ingredients to build weapons of mass destruction there is little hope of tracking them down.
She also said the exercise organizers chose a scenario involving highly enriched uranium because al Qaeda has made repeated attempts to acquire it.
"Once the cat is out of the bag, there aren't many good options," she told Reuters. "The exercise tended to underscore the overall message that
prevention is the only option...we need to keep such material out of the hands of terrorists."
"It is inexcusable for world leaders to not address the problem of securing nuclear material," said by former United States senator Sam Nunn.
"The most effective, least expensive way to prevent nuclear terrorism is to lock down and secure weapons and fissile materials in every country and
in every facility that has them."
"We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe," Nunn statet.
[Edited on 4-5-2004 by Banshee]