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  1. dub

    27,011 posts.

    Wednesday January 8, 3:25 PM
    Libya, Syria, possibly Sudan also seek WMD, CIA warns
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    AFP Photo


    As the United States is consumed with proliferation crises in Iraq and North Korea, other counties such as Libya, Syria and possibly Sudan are quietly trying to acquire or expand secret arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, the CIA has warned.

    The US Central Intelligence Agency has also concluded that suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States, "has a more sophisticated biological weapons research program than previously discovered."

    "Nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic missile-applicable technology and expertise continues to gradually disperse worldwide," the agency said in a report submitted to Congress last month and made public Tuesday.

    The document, which contains a broad overview of the most pressing proliferation concerns in the second half of 2001, also points out that nuclear technologies have spread so much "that from a technical standpoint, additional proliferators may be able to produce sufficient fissile material for a weapon and to develop the capability to weaponize it."

    The assessment comes as the administration of President George W. Bush is threatening war on Iraq if it refuses to give up its suspected chemical and biological weapons, as well as its alleged clandestine nuclear arms program.

    Washington is also demanding that North Korea, already suspected of having one or two nuclear warheads, abandon its drive to expand its arsenal.

    But while detailing these dangerous pursuits by the "axis of evil," the CIA indicated that other nations from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism were also involved in similar activities.

    One of them is Libya, which, according the report, continues to develop its nuclear infrastructure.

    "In 2001, Libya and other countries reportedly used their secret services to try to obtain technical information on the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons," the CIA said.

    According to the report, Tripoli tried to negotiate with Russia a deal to purchase a nuclear reactor and secure Moscow's assistance in developing the Tajura Nuclear Research Center.

    "Such civil-sector work could present Libya with opportunities to pursue technologies that also would be suitable for military purposes," the spy agency concluded.

    Following the suspension of UN sanctions against it, Libya quickly moved to establish contacts with chemical companies and research institutions, primarily in Western Europe, in order to secure technologies and raw materials for its suspected chemical weapons (CW) program.

    "Tripoli still appears to be working toward an offensive CW capability and eventually indigenous production," the report stated. "Evidence suggests that Libya also is seeking to acquire the capability to develop and produce BW (biological weapons) agents."

    Syria is suspected of trying to acquire precursor materials and know-how for a chemical weapons program.

    "Damascus already holds a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin but apparently is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents," the CIA said.

    The agency believes it is "highly probable" that Syria is also developing biological weapons.

    As for Sudan, the CIA said the East African nation "has been developing the capability to produce chemical weapons for many years," and "may be interested in a BW program as well."

    The report also warned that anti-American terrorist groups like bin Laden's al-Qaeda have "ready access" to information about weapons of mass destruction.

    A trial in New York of men linked to the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania has revealed that in the early 1990s, al-Qaeda tried to arrange from Sudan a purchase of enriched uranium, possibly to be used for building a so-called "dirty bomb."

    "We asses terrorist use of radiological dispersal devices to be a highly credible threat," the CIA said.

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