- The Washington Times - Monday, August 10, 2009

NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE

Kenneth Brill looks like a mild-mannered professor who would be comfortable in an ivory tower, but his job is nothing less than preventing nuclear nightmares.

The small Cold War club of nations with nuclear weapons “is a thing of the past,” Mr. Brill said in a recent speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“We now live in what is close to an open market, where many states have the scientific and technological capabilities required to produce [weapons of mass destruction] and where … non-state actors can distribute and acquire a wide range of capabilities once reserved for states,” he said.

Mr. Brill, a former U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is director of the National Counterproliferation Center, established as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. He said his center works closely with the National Counterterrorism Center to anticipate threats before another nation goes nuclear or a terrorist group acquires the bomb.

He called his mission looking “over the horizon” for the emerging threat before it makes the headlines.

“If we focus our attention only on the states or terrorist groups mentioned in those headlines, we are just asking to be surprised,” Mr. Brill said.

“If our capabilities are focused solely on Iran and North Korea and al Qaeda, we will have done our policymakers a huge disservice when an ‘over-the-horizon’ nation goes nuclear or a new terrorist group starts putting the pieces together for a biological weapon.”

The nuclear threat has grown more urgent with the widespread use of the Internet, he said.

“If you Google the words, ‘how to build a nuclear bomb,’ you get more than 6.5 million results,” he said. “The knowledge is out there. The drive … is out there, and the materials can be found.”

He noted that this month marks the 70th anniversary of the day when Albert Einstein warned President Roosevelt that the scientists were acquiring the knowledge of atomic power and urged “watchfulness” and “quick action” to prevent Nazi Germany from developing a bomb.

“Those words, more than a half-century old, should take on a renewed meaning, as we now work to counter this uniquely 21st century WMD threat,” he said.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week:

Thursday

Ivonne Baki, president of the Andean Parliament and a former Ecuadorean ambassador to the United States. She delivers the keynote address at a Latin American poverty forum organized by the Council of the Americas and the Millennium Challenge Corp.

Abdel Monem Said Aly, a senator in Egypt’s Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, and chairman of the board of the Al Ahram Foundation. He addresses the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and discusses U.S.-Egypt relations in advance of an Aug. 18 meeting between President Obama and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House.

Sam Pitroda, chairman of India’s National Knowledge Commission, who discusses education policies in China, India and the United States at a forum organized by the Bridging Nations Foundation.

Saturday

Deepak Perwani, a celebrated Pakistani fashion designer, who delivers a keynote address at a black-tie fundraiser and fashion show to help displaced people in Pakistan through the American Fund for Human Development.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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