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Rumsfeld: Terrorists Will Get Weapons of Mass Destruction - 2002-05-21

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said terrorists will, in his view, inevitably obtain nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

It is perhaps the most troubling warning issued yet by a top administration official. Appearing before Congress, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he believes terrorists will acquire weapons of mass destruction. He said they will not hesitate to use them.

"We have to recognize that terrorist networks have relationships with terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction and that they inevitably are going to get their hands on them and they will not hesitate one minute in using them," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Mr. Rumsfeld declines to discuss specific threats. But he named Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria as states now developing chemical and biological weapons and aggressively seeking nuclear arms.

As for the al-Qaida terrorist organization, Mr. Rumsfeld says its fighters are spread across the globe and are even in the United States. He said they remain well-trained and well-financed.

Mr. Rumsfeld said the United States is putting enormous pressure on terrorist groups like al-Qaida as well as on the state sponsors of such organizations.

But he said terrorists maintain the advantage of being able to strike anywhere, anytime with any technique. He warned the United States will probably have little or no warning before the next terrorist strike.