A terrorist attack on the U.K. involving chemical or nuclear weapons is now "more realistic" as a result of failed states and the theft of materials that can be used to make a dirty bomb, the government warned Tuesday.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith disclosed the fear that terrorists may turn to improvised explosive devices of the kind being used to attack patrols in Afghanistan and which were deployed by the IRA in Northern Ireland.
Smith outlined the threat facing the U.K. from new technologies and the splintering of terror groups as she published the Government’s updated strategy to counter international terrorism.
The 174-page report includes details of training to be provided for a "workers army" of ordinary U.K. employees. In particular, training exercises in spotting potential terrorists and dealing with the aftermath of attacks have already been prepared for night clubs and other venues where large crowds gather in the evening and early hours of the morning.
In addition, a training exercise is to be developed for hotels and restaurants to help staff cope with an attack.
The report says that many of the underlying causes of terrorism — conflicts and disputes exploited by terror organizations, failing states and changes in technology — will persist.
"Self-start” terror organizations may emerge from changes to the structure of Al Qaeda and terrorist organizations will gain access to new technology, it adds.
“Contemporary terrorist organizations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of ... materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past,” the report warns.