|Subj:||"Evidence" bin Laden has sought nukes, chemical and bio-weapons: expert|
|Date:||10/2/01 12:59:54 PM Pacific Daylight Time|
"Evidence" bin Laden has sought nukes, chemical and
PARIS, Oct 2 (AFP) - A leading US expert on arms control
said Tuesday there was "evidence" that suspected terrorist
mastermind Osama Bin Laden had tried to get nuclear and
biological weapons and may already have some toxic chemical
Michael Moodie, president of the Chemical and Biological
Arms Control Institute, an independent thinktank in
Washington, said he had "no doubt" that bin Laden would use
such weapons of mass destruction "if he could."
"There is evidence that he has sought those capabilities and
that he has sought nuclear capabilities," he told a press
conference during a visit to Paris.
"... American officials are concerned that he may have a
limited chemical ability... he may have an agent but whether
it is weaponised or not" is not known, he said.
Moodie is a former assistant director of the United States'
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Bureau for Multilateral
Affairs and a former senior negotiator, under the Clinton
administration, at talks to beef up a 1972 global treaty on
He did not elaborate on the purported evidence against bin
Laden, who is sought in connection with the suicide attacks
on New York and Washington on September 11.
On Sunday, White House chief of staff Andrew Card said that
terrorist groups "have probably found the means to use
biological and chemical warfare."
On Monday, the White House apparently sought to ease concern
about these remarks, saying there was no need for the public
to seek vaccination or gas-masks.
Moodie said the events of September 11 had thrown light on
"the changing face of terrorism," a phenomenon with "unique
psychologies... a culture of death."
Terrorists seeking to make a biological or chemical weapon
still have to overcome significant hurdles, but the
technical ones -- such as acquiring specialised knowledge
and the ability to manufacture agents on a large scale --
are diminishing, Moodie said.
He stressed, however, that it was impossible to quantify the
risk of chemical and biological terrorism, and cautioned
against any panic or hyperbole.
"You can't put a number (on the risk). But it is real enough
that you have to do as much as you can to prevent it in the
first place, and make preparations.
"... Even today, Draconian measures are not warranted and
are probably counterproductive," he said. "... The risk is
unavoidable and we will never reduce it completely, but we
can reduce it to manageable levels."
Moodie placed the emphasis on trying to identify potential
threats and encouraging preparedness among health officials,
emergency services and
hospitals, especially among epidemiologists, who would be
tasked with spotting any early outbreak of an infectious
In August, the US stymied negotiations to agree on
verification clauses that would strengthen the 1972
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which prohibits the
development, production and stockpiling of germ and toxin
US ambassador and talks envoy Donald Mahley said on July 25
that the draft text for inspections could jeopardise
national security and confidential data on biological
Moodie predicted that the American delegation would come up
with a new proposal in November that would take into account
"non-state actors" --
terrorist groups that worked across national borders.
"It will not be a fundamentally traditional arms control
package," he said. The Bush administration feels that "what
is needed is a whole new way of thinking."