UK & World News
Dirty Bomb Attack In UK A 'Real Threat'
A dirty bomb attack on the UK is a "real threat" and every country has to be vigilant against a nuclear strike, the Foreign Office has warned.
Alistair Burt, who is in charge of counter-terrorism policy, admitted there had been fears of a bomb during this summer's Olympics.
The threat was considered to be strong enough for nuclear detectors to be deployed for the Games, he said at the start of a two-day summit in London.
The Foreign Office minister said the number of cases involving the loss or theft of nuclear materials around the world was growing.
And he called for countries to show "utmost vigilance" and unite to combat the threat of a nuclear attack.
"Nuclear terrorism is a real and global threat. A successful attack, no matter where in the world it came, would be catastrophic," he said.
"Catastrophic for the immediate devastation and terrible loss of life, and for the far-reaching consequences - psychological, economic, political and environmental.
"Such an attack was unthinkable just a generation ago. But it is now a possibility we need to confront with the utmost vigilance."
Figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog, for 1993-2011 show there have been 2,164 cases of nuclear material being "outside state control".
Of those, 147 occurred in 2011, with four involving the highly enriched uranium needed to build a nuclear bomb.
Mr Burt said the threat meant Britain's Cyclamen system, used to detect nuclear and radiological materials at ports and airports, was deployed at the Olympics.
"At the Olympic Park, yes, absolutely, processes were deployed... that would trigger the equipment so that we would know something was passing through," he said.
He also expressed concerns that some governments were helping terrorists acquire nuclear materials or expertise - although he refused to be drawn on the countries involved.
"It wouldn't be right to identify individual nations who may be engaged in helping or assisting," he said.