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Experts say nuclear threat real

WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- The threat of a nuclear attack on a major U.S. city is genuine and is escalating, government officials and terrorism experts say.

The officials and experts testified as part of a lengthy U.S. Senate investigation into the government's ability to prevent a nuclear attack, USA Today reported.

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"The prospect of terrorists detonating a nuclear device on American soil sometime within the next quarter-century is real and growing," read prepared testimony by Gary Ackerman of the U.S. Homeland Security Department-funded National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. "Such a calamitous attack would represent a game-changing event far exceeding the impact of (Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks) on the nation."

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is conducting the government's first investigation into nuclear terrorism and response needs and plans. Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said the hearing wasn't to promote unnecessary fear but to "confront the threatening realities so that we can then deal with them in defense of our country and people."

In his prepared remarks, Homeland Security intelligence chief Charlie Allen said he doesn't think any terrorist groups possess a nuclear device but "the terrorist threat is dynamic and constantly evolving."

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