- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The world will “more likely than not” face a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons by 2013 if governments fail to undertake major security and prevention measures, according to a new bipartisan commission report released Tuesday.

The commission, chaired by former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and former Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri, is recommending that the new Obama administration appoint a national security aide devoted exclusively to coordinating U.S. intelligence, military and political efforts to curb weapons proliferation.

“The commission believes that unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013,” the report warns.

“Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing,” according to the congressionally chartered report, entitled “World at Risk.”

Charged with looking at all possible links between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, the commission concluded that the biggest single threat is a terrorist strike using biological weapons.

The commissioners got their own brush with global terrorism while researching the report. In September, the members were in Kuwait City waiting to fly to Pakistan when they learned that their Marriott hotel in Islamabad had been bombed by an Islamist terrorist group.

While focusing heavily on the risks posed by Pakistan, the report also identifies the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea as a central focus for the new administration.

“As a top priority, the next administration must stop the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs,” the report said.

Other recommendations contained in the 132-page report include: tighten oversight of U.S. government biological labs; conduct a comprehensive review to secure the country’s stock of dangerous pathogens; improve rapid response efforts to deal with mass biological weapons attacks; and convene an international conference on biosecurity.

“The intent of this report is neither to frighten nor to reassure the American people about the current state of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” the commissioners said. “It is to underscore that the U.S. government has yet to fully adapt to these circumstances, and to convey the sobering reality that the risks are growing faster than our multilayered defenses.”

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