As delegates discuss nuclear non-proliferation at the United Nations, a new report calls on government leaders to place more attention on preventing weapons-grade nuclear material from getting into the hands of terrorists.
Former New Jersery Governor Thomas Kean who led an investigation into the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, says he believes securing nuclear material is an urgent matter. "My fellow commissioners and I have stated time and time again, that a nuclear weapon, in the hands of a terrorist, is the single greatest threat that faces our country today. We know, from our own research, that bin Laden has been seeking weapons of mass destruction for over 10 years. A nuclear 9-11 would be a world-changing disaster," he said.
These comments came at a news conference in Washington Thursday, during the presentation of a new report that gives a worldwide analysis of the current nuclear threat.
The report was written by scholars at Harvard University and commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-governmental group founded five years ago to strengthen global non-proliferation security and raise public awareness of the issue.
The organization's co-chairman, former Senator Sam Nunn, says besides the possibility of an actual nuclear attack, countries around the world need to consider other effects of a nuclear catastrophe. "They're vulnerable to the economic drop in confidence that we've never seen in the history of the world, if you had a nuclear explosion. I've told people in places like Switzerland, that if you think the economy of the world suffered after 9-11, and it did, think about what world confidence is going to be if a terrorist bomb goes off in a city, wherever it is in the world, and we don't know whether there's a second one, or a third one, or a fourth one, coming in the days to follow," he said.
Senator Nunn said he believes the issue needs attention at the presidential level, and he urged the United States and Russia to take the lead. "If the president of the United States and the president of Russia asked, every day, about progress on this, or at least once a week, and asked for a report, it would make an enormous difference," he said.
Senator Nunn said he hopes President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will highlight nuclear non-proliferation when they meet next next week in Moscow.