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Nuclear terrorism in US a ' real threat' -

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Nuclear terrorism in US a ' real threat'

Broadcast: 20/08/2007

Reporter: David Lawrence

The Australian ambassador to the US, Dennis Richardson, says America faces a real threat of nuclear
terrorism.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Australia's ambassador to the United States has tonight warned that America faces the
real threat of nuclear terrorism. Speaking at the Sydney Institute, Dennis Richardson said the
threat of weapons of mass destruction was not an abstract notion and if terrorists ever got hold of
them, America would be their first target. David Lawrence reports.

DAVID LAWRENCE: Our man in Washington for more than two years and a career diplomat, Dennis
Richardson was not about to criticise his American hosts.

DENNIS RICHARDSON: The United States is an indispensable nation as it is for the rest of the world.
That fact neither diminishes our independence, nor our identity. Overwhelmingly, the US remains a
force for good in the world.

DAVID LAWRENCE: And as such the West, he suggested, could not afford to ignore its superpower ally.

DENNIS RICHARDSON: US global priorities and how it views the rest of the world is important to us
all, whether we like it or not, both because of its economic weight and because it is the sole
superpower.

DAVID LAWRENCE: But powerful though it is, Mr Richardson warned America faced enormous security
concerns, including the possibility it might be the target of nuclear terrorism.

DENNIS RICHARDSON: It's a real threat to be addressed not as an abstract notion. It is a concern
driven not so much by fear but by hard-headed analysis, the certain knowledge that terrorists want
to obtain weapons of mass destruction and if they do, their target of first choice will be the
United States.

DAVID LAWRENCE: Armed with this knowledge, US concerns over nuclear proliferation in countries like
Iran and North Korea are understandable.

DENNIS RICHARDSON: The depth of concern amongst Americans of all political persuasions is not, I
believe, fully and properly appreciated in all countries. Partly because they know the threat is
not directed against them and therefore, they don't feel it the same way.

DAVID LAWRENCE: On the question of trade, Mr Richardson argued that despite the enormity of the
American economy, Australians had no reason to feel intimidated.

DENNIS RICHARDSON: It's all too easy for Australians in the United States and elsewhere to become
mesmerised by the size of the United States itself and to underestimate our own weight. Equally,
because it is so long established and works relatively smoothly, it is easy to underestimate the
breadth and depth of our bilateral relationship with the US.

DAVID LAWRENCE: He wouldn't be drawn on a political preference, but Mr Richardson said that
relationship would continue to prosper, whoever wins the race for the White House. David Lawrence,
Lateline.