Rumsfeld warns allies to brace for more terrorist surprises

Tuesday, December 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday said NATO must brace for more surprises from terrorists using everything from computer hackers to cruise missiles to wreak havoc on cities around the world.

``We need to face the reality that the attacks of Sept. 11 _ horrific as they were _ may in fact be a dim preview of what is to come if we do not prepare today to defend our people from adversaries with weapons of increasing power and range,'' Rumsfeld warned fellow defense ministers at NATO headquarters.

The NATO meeting was held in private, but Rumsfeld's staff made available copies of his remarks that had been prepared in advance.

``As we look at the devastation they unleashed in the U.S., contemplate the destruction they could wreak in New York, or London, or Paris, or Berlin with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons,'' Rumsfeld said, according to the prepared text of his speech.

Fresh from a visit to Afghanistan, Rumsfeld cited new threats, including attacks on computer systems and satellites. Terrorists could get their hands on advanced conventional weapons, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles _ or even nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, he said.

``All of these are emerging dangers,'' he said, according to the text. ``None can be ignored.''

Afghanistan is not the only country where terrorists operate and al-Qaida is not the only terrorist network, he said, repeating President Bush's statement that countries that harbor terrorists ``will be held to account.''

``It should be of particular concern to all of us that the list of countries which today support global terrorism overlaps significantly with the list of countries that have weaponized chemical and biological agents, and which are seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons _ and the means to deliver them.''

NATO has invoked Article 5 of its founding treaty, declaring that the attacks on the United States in September should be treated as an attack on all 19 members of the alliance. But NATO has had no front-line role in the war in Afghanistan and none is envisaged.

Though NATO's 1999 strategic concept cites terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction as among the major threats facing NATO, the alliance is still heavily geared toward fighting wars of territorial defense instead of terror.

Rumsfeld told fellow ministers that now is the time _ while Sept. 11 is still fresh in the minds of people everywhere _ to increase defense spending.

NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson added: ``We must draw the necessary conclusions, even if that means additional resources for defense and security and new balances inside our defense programs.''

The defense ministers are expected to call on the allliance to develop a new concept for defense against terrorism, reviewing NATO's current effectiveness in this fight, developing new capabilities to fight terrorism and the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and improving information-sharing, a senior NATO official said.