Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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Averting Nuclear Terrorism
Royce Schedules Thursday Hearing on Non-Proliferation Efforts

BACKGROUND:  A nuclear attack on U.S. soil could take a devastating toll in lives and property and have unimaginable consequences for the American economy and way of life.  Terrorists groups, primarily al Qaeda but likely others, are pursuing nuclear capabilities, according to several reports.  Experts differ on the likelihood of terrorists accessing a nuclear weapon and delivering it against the United States.  But some believe that building a crude nuclear weapon would be well within the technological reach of terrorists once they secured the necessary amount of nuclear material.  Concern about nuclear terrorism is growing as nuclear proliferation concerns grow.  In February, CIA Director Porter Goss told a Senate committee, "There is sufficient [nuclear] material unaccounted for so it would be possible for those with know-how to construct a nuclear weapon."  Subsequent planned hearings will examine in detail specific U.S. policies and programs designed to avoid the ultimate terrorist attack.                                                                                           

WHAT:                 Subcommittee Oversight Hearing:  Averting Nuclear Terrorism
                              Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation,
U.S. Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-CA), Chairman

WHEN:                 2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 14, 2005

WHERE:               Room 2200 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:       Jim Woolsey, Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton (Former Director of Central Intelligence);
                              Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.,
Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation;
                              Michael A. Levi, Ph.D.,
Nonresident Science Fellow, The Brookings Institute; and
                              Laura S.H. Holgate,
Vice President for Russia/New Independent States Programs, Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Questions expected to be addressed during the hearing: 

bullet Which terrorist groups are most likely to engineer a nuclear attack? 
bullet What type of nuclear attack is most likely?  Or can the likelihood of various scenarios be reasonably estimated? 
bullet Can nuclear terrorism be deterred?  How should the U.S. prioritize its efforts to avert nuclear terrorism?  Should its focus be on proliferating states or terrorist groups? 
bullet If averting nuclear terrorism is treated as the prime U.S. foreign policy objective, what are the consequences?  Are there tradeoffs in the case of Russia, for example?  Do other countries view averting nuclear terrorism as a national priority? 
bullet What is the impact of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and other treaties?  If the world is at a turning point, with terrorist groups near acquiring weapons of mass destruction, is nuclear terrorism commanding the necessary attention within the U.S. government?

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