The WMD Picture Gets More Bleak

According to a bipartisan commission of five Democrats and four Republicans working on a short timeline to review and recommend ways to prevent the spread and terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, “our margin of safety against WMD terrorism is shrinking, not growing.” In their testimony last week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the commission’s chairman and vice chairman, respectively, former Sen. Bob Graham and former Sen. Jim Talent, predicted that “unless urgent preventive action is taken,” terrorists would “more likely than not” launch a WMD attack “somewhere in the world in the next five years.” And, they said, many experts agree that the likely origin for this attack would be within Pakistan. Graham and Talent said, “Were one to map terrorism and WMD today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan.” They would place working with Pakistan to eliminate terrorist safe havens and secure WMD-potential materials at the top of the new Administration’s priorities list. The report focuses on nuclear and biological weapons and cautions against the rising nuclear capabilities of Pakistan, India, and China that portend a “new kind of arms race in Asia” with the potential for a nuclear incident that would have regional and global effects. However, although the commission notes that recruitment of “just one or two individuals” with access to nuclear material and knowledge of nuclear weapons design would “increase dramatically” the ability of terrorists to produce a nuclear device, it believes that “a biological attack that inflicts mass casualties is more likely in the near term.