What do Senator Hillary Clinton, President George Bush, and the Pope have in common? (A bit of a brain teaser, that one, I know.) Answer: They're all very concerned about the threat of nuclear terrorism.
Last week, at the Democratic primary debate at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, the very first question posed by moderator Charles Gibson was about the threat of nuclear terrorism. Confronted with a hypothetical scenario of a nuclear-equipped al-Qaeda, Senator Clinton said, "I think it's important... because obviously that's the most direct threat to the United States." She then went on to describe five steps she would take in that scenario.
Days later, Pope Benedict gave his annual "state of the world" address in Vatican City. He called on world leaders to strengthen their joint efforts to "prevent terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction."
For his part, President Bush says that, "The greatest threat we face today is the possibility of a secret and sudden attack with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons."
Across the board, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, Congress, the White House, and many others are working to prevent terrorists from acquiring and using nuclear weapons and materials, and to plan how to respond to a nuclear terrorist attack if one were to occur.
For some people, though, the threat of nuclear terrorism belongs more in the plot line of a Jack Bauer escapade on the television drama 24 than on the priority lists of presidents and popes. Still, many people are aware of and concerned about the threat.
A recent public opinion survey by the Saga foundation found that 62% of Americans are concerned about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack on U.S. soil, while 38% are not concerned. The same survey found that 49% of Americans think Al-Qaeda poses a greater nuclear threat to the United States than another country armed with nuclear weapons.
I wonder where DipNote readers fall on this question:
Are you concerned about the threat of nuclear terrorism? Why or why not?
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts!
(Note: I had a lot of fun blogging about my experiences in Saudi Arabia last year. As I continue to reflect on my time in Riyadh, I'm sure I'll have more posts about Saudi in the future. But I'm also going to start sharing some of my experiences with my current position with the Office of WMD Terrorism here in Washington. I'm looking forward to continue engaging on both topics – keep those comments coming!)