Good news: State Dept. official says risk of nuclear terrorism is growing

Seems like an odd place for a warning like this to come from, although perhaps not if you read it as a more general warning about nukes in Muslim hands. State, after all, is the arm that’s dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.

I wonder if the source is John Negroponte. He came over last month to be Condi’s deputy but was DNI for two years before that, so he’d certainly be in a position to know.

There is a growing threat that terrorist groups such as Hizbullah will acquire nuclear or other WMD technology, a senior US State Department official told The Jerusalem Post this week.

He indicated that there are a “large number” of nuclear smuggling incidents each year, some of which are “substantial” and not limited to low-grade material.

“You have this environment of material, expertise and supporting equipment [for weapons of mass destruction] being more widely available than before,” he said. “You have that coupled with the demonstrated interest of some terror groups to acquire these capabilities, and that is a real concern to us.”

“It’s a bigger threat than it was in the past… You see work by the groups to try to acquire the means. It’s not just the will. They are working to acquire the means,” he said.

While the official wouldn’t discuss the specific capabilities of Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he said “each of those terrorist groups are ones the United States is very concerned about.” He also said Arab and Muslim countries were increasingly playing a role in combating the spread of such technologies to terrorist organization.

Speaking of Hezbollah, Time has a short but fascinating dispatch from inside one of their bunkers. (Bryan’s written about them several times.) So well camouflaged are they that the reporter nearly missed the entrance even though he had the GPS coordinates.

The effort that went into building the fortifications in this valley alone had been extraordinary, and these were just three of dozens, possibly hundreds, scattered throughout southern Lebanon. The steel plates and girders, as well as the digging tools, sandbags and other equipment had to be carried by hand up the steep slope from the valley floor and welded into place in the cramped claustrophobic tunnels. And Hizballah’s engineers had managed to work undetected, despite near daily reconnaissance flights by Israeli jets and drones.

Exit question: How on earth did they build them right under the IDF’s nose?