February 2, 2006

Pentagon to Research Potential Nuclear Fallout: Report

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has formed a team to analyze fallout from nuclear attacks on American soil in a bid to identify the potential attackers, the New York Times reported on its Web site on Thursday.

The report cites Michael K. Evenson, associate director for operations at the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which directs the team, as saying the program began operations last year. The objective of the program is to quickly determine who exploded the device, in part to clarify options to strike back, the Times reported.

The government also hopes terrorists would be less likely to use a nuclear weapon if they know it can be traced.

The team would use tools including robots to gather radioactive debris and other sensitive instruments to detect the origins of a device and determine whether it was a true atomic weapon or dirty bomb, which uses ordinary explosives to spew radioactive materials.

"I'm very confident we can achieve what we set out to do," Evenson told the Times in an interview.

Evenson is to speak publicly about the program for the first time on Thursday at a conference in Arlington, Virginia, sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, the newspaper reported.