Risk of Nuclear Attack on U.S. Rises - LiebermanSubmitted by silentboom on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 13:01
Witnesses told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the risk of a nuclear attack on U.S. cities has grown in the past five years due to the spread of nuclear technology and the growth of a global terrorist movement.
The Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs looked at the horrific consequences of a nuclear strike by terrorists, and experts said more could be done to save lives, the Washington Post reported.
"I definitely conclude the threat is greater and is increasing every year with the march of technology," said Cham E. Dallas, director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the panel’s chairman, said: "The scenarios we discuss today are so hard for us to contemplate and so emotionally traumatic that it is tempting to push them aside. However, now is the time to have this difficult conversation, to ask the tough questions, then to get answers."
Dallas gave the panel a report on the effects of a small nuclear device exploding near the White House. A 1-kiloton device that could fit into a suitcase could kill about 25,000 people, Dallas said. A 10-kiloton explosive, which could be hidden in a van, could kill about 100,000.
The 10-kiloton blast would destroy almost all buildings within a half-mile radius, and the intense heat would burn people for many blocks and spark fires, according to Dallas.
In addition, a radioactive plume would begin drifting from the blast point, subjecting those in its path to lethal levels of radiation, Dallas said.
"With proper communication, people can flee from the plume area," Dallas said. But, he added, authorities need to "put more effort" into testing their ability to swiftly alert those in danger, according to the Post.
Ashton B. Carter, co-director of the Preventive Defense Project at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, agreed, telling the committee that "much could be done to save lives" if the government made the right preparations in advance.
Dallas suggested training medical professionals such as pharmacists and veterinarians to provide burn care, and organizing community volunteers to clean wounds and help in other ways.
"Burn care is a nightmare, and we’re completely unprepared," he said. "Ninety-five percent of burn victims will not receive care. And most of them will die."
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller told Newsmax in an exclusive interview last May that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group desperately want to obtain nuclear devices and explode them in American cities, especially New York and Washington, D.C.