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Nuclear, Radiological Terrorism Pose Grave Risks to U.K.: Deputy PM

Governments must pool their efforts to prevent any act of terrorism involving a nuclear weapon or radiological "dirty bomb," British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in prepared remarks he was set to deliver on Wednesday (see GSN, Feb. 3, 2011).

Authorities in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have for years voiced concern over the potential for extremists to build radiological or atomic armaments, the London Telegraph reported. A senior U.N. nuclear official previously warned the United States that the global community faces a substantial possibility of a "nuclear 9/11," according to classified diplomatic documents made public in 2011 by the transparency group WikiLeaks (see GSN, Feb. 2, 2011).

The records also referenced an assertion by official participants in a 2009 NATO briefing that al-Qaeda was planning to employ "dirty radioactive" improvised explosive devices, potentially in attacks targeting British military personnel deployed to Afghanistan (see GSN, Feb. 8, 2011).

"It is only by working together that we have any hope of tackling the new threats," Clegg said in his prepared statement to be delivered in The Hague, Netherlands.

“Take a terrorist-executed nuclear attack: unthinkable just a generation ago but now a possibility the international community cannot afford to ignore, thanks to an increased availability of nuclear material combined with more information about making the weapons on the Internet, as well as thriving smuggling networks.

“That is a stateless threat, impossible for any national police force, no matter how advanced, to contain, the Liberal Democrat leader said.

“But together we can agree and enforce the rules that will prevent such attacks. And I’m traveling to a major summit in Seoul later this year to that very end,” he said, referring to the Global Nuclear Security Summit scheduled for March 26-27 in South Korea (see GSN, March 6; Tom Whitehead, London Telegraph, March 7).

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