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Chairman Linder Holds Hearing on WMD Terrorism and Proliferant States

Location: Washington, DC

September 8th, 2005


Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, September 8, Congressman John Linder (R-GA), Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack, held a hearing on "WMD Terrorism and Proliferant States." The hearing examined the threat of state sponsored terrorism in Iran, and the possibility of future Iranian assistance in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attacks. Additionally, the hearing examined how countries with unconventional weapons programs could enable terrorist groups to launch a successful biological or nuclear attack against the United States.

States with unconventional weapon programs, which are also known sponsors of terrorism, present unique U.S. security concerns. Such states could enable terrorist groups to overcome multiple hurdles in mounting a successful chemical, biological or nuclear attack. Sanctuary for planning and preparation, resources, expertise, material and technology, all vital to such an enterprise, could be provided by a state that is sympathetic to terrorists.

"As a nation with a nascent nuclear program and well-documented links to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, Iran is of particular concern," Linder said. "While Iran is by no means the only state of this type, its continued hostility toward the United States, its past attacks on U.S. forces, and its current well-publicized proliferation activities give it well-deserved special status."

Iran remains the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, as noted in the U.S. Department of State's most recent "Country Reports on Terrorism," providing safe haven and logistical support to Islamic, as well as secular nationalist terrorist groups, whose interests are aligned with its own. Additionally, Iran continues to convert uranium into a form suitable for enrichment in defiance of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requests to stop. Terrorist groups supported by Iran include Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Qaida and its affiliates, among others. Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization until September 11, 2001.

"As we recognize the strong effort by DHS to assist the people in the devastated Gulf Coast region, we must not lose sight of the fact that a terrorist assisted by a State actor, who is intent on killing large numbers of U.S. citizens, would dwarf in magnitude the devastation that we have all observed in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana," Linder continued. "While we may not always be able to precisely predict and anticipate the devastation that Mother Nature unleashes, attacks of man-made origin can and must be prevented. Prevention can only be achieved if accurate assessments of the threat are combined with effective action. We must remain vigilant and informed in this dynamic environment."

Witnesses at the hearing included: Dr. Daniel Byman, Associate Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Director, Security Studies Program, Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown University; Mr. Greg Giles, National Security Consultant; and Dr. Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.

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