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Published: Friday, 10/21/2005

Weapons expert warns Toledo could be a target

For many years, Graham Allison has been one of America's leading experts on nuclear weapons and nuclear security.

During a taping of The Editors program, he said the Bush administration should step up its efforts to fight the nuclear terrorist threat or face a better than even chance that a terrorist will explode a nuclear device in a U.S. city within a decade.

Mr. Allison, the founding dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University who was assistant secretary of defense from 1993 to 1994, said the threat comes primarily from al-Qaeda.

"My bottom line is that if the U.S. government just stands on the autopilot, just on the current trim line ... I think that it is more likely than not that we will see a nuclear bomb exploding in one of our cities in less than a decade," Mr. Allison said.

Moreover, Toledo may well be on the terrorists' list as both a convenient and attractive target. That's because it is both a transportation hub close to Canada and a city in what can be considered as the Heartland of America, Mr. Allison said.

"The danger is that a terrorist like Osama bin Laden who is very motivated ... gets a bomb out of a place like Russia," Mr. Allison said. "[Say] some crook steals it, he sells it to Osama bin Laden, Osama bin Laden brings it to Cleveland, or Boston, or L.A., and blows it up."

To prevent such a thing from happening, the government should "play with a full hand of all of the carrots and all of the sticks" to ensure cooperation of such nations as Russia and China to make sure that all their nuclear weapons are secured and that rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran verifiably give up their nuclear weapons' programs.

Asked bin Laden's desire, Mr. Allison, who authored a book, Nuclear Terrorism: the Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, said, "He's about persuading us that we shouldn't be in his neighborhood."

Mr. Allison was questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president and editor of The Blade. The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.



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