- LONDON - Osama bin Laden, the exiled millionaire Saudi terrorist leader,
has acquired tactical nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Central Asian
states, according to a leading Arabic newspaper.
- Bin Laden, accused by America of masterminding
the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, has established
a network of influential friends in Central Asia and Ukraine, according
to the London-based al-Hayat.
- Citing reliable diplomatic sources in
Central Asia, the paper says that the Afghan-based terrorist has used this
network to get hold of weapons from the former Soviet republics. It did
not say how many weapons he had obtained or if he had paid for them.
- The Foreign Office said Tuesday that
it had no information about the reports, but added that bin Laden was a
dangerous terrorist and all his threats were treated seriously.
- The London-based International Institute
for Strategic Studies expressed scepticism, saying that it would be impossible
to deliver such a weapon to a target without missiles, launchers and sites,
as well as access to the codes and procedures needed to activate a nuclear
- A spokesman said it was likely that criminals
in the cash-strapped former Soviet republics had agreed to sell weapons,
but these could be used only as radiological bombs scattering radiation
if exploded conventionally in a car or truck-bomb attack.