Report cites Britain 'dirty bomb' threat

March 25, 2009 at 1:58 PM

LONDON, March 25 (UPI) -- Increasing thefts of materials used to manufacture radioactive "dirty bombs" are making such a attack more realistic in Britain, an official report says.

The British Home Office's updated anti-terror strategy, released Tuesday, contends that terrorists are stealing and smuggling materials needed for radiological weapons and have greater access to new technology, The Times of London reported.

The developments mean terrorists could become capable of conducting more lethal operations, the report warned, saying, "Contemporary terrorist organizations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (or CBRN) weapons. Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of CBRN materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past."

Asked by The Times about threats from a "dirty bomb" -- in which radioactive materials are packed into a conventional bomb -- Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told reporters, "There is the potential, given the international situation, what we believe to be the aspirations of some international terrorists, that it could (happen)."

Home-made bombs, or improvised explosive devices such as those used by Taliban militants in Afghanistan, also pose a threat to Britain, the report said.

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