Chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack is ‘possibility by 2030’

Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
·2-min read

There is a “realistic possibility” a terrorist group will launch a successful chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attack by 2030, a Government review has warned.

Terrorism will remain a “major threat” over the coming decade, with a “more diverse range of material and political causes, new sources of radicalisation and evolving tactics”, according to the Integrated Review Of Security, Defence, Development And Foreign Policy.

The 100-plus page document setting out the findings of a year-long survey adds: “There is a realistic possibility that state sponsorship of terrorism and the use of proxies will increase. It is likely that a terrorist group will launch a successful CBRN attack by 2030.”

As well as acknowledging Islamist, Northern Ireland-related, far-right, far-left and anarchist terrorism among the main sources of threat in the UK, the report warns that disorder overseas, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, is “likely to increase space for terrorist and extremist groups to operate”.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (Peter Morrison/PA)

The findings warn serious and organised crime (Soc) will “continue to have a significant impact on UK citizens” and its “scale and complexity” will likely increase thanks to new technology, adding that it will “adapt to events faster than governments”.

“Soc will also enable threats such as state threats and terrorism,” the paper adds.

The document highlights a number of measures to crack down on terrorism and other crimes, some of which are already under way or in the pipeline.

They include:

– Reinforcing “international governance of state access to CBRN weapons” and using intelligence to find out who seeks access to CBRN as well as stepping up efforts to “stop states from using research relationships with UK academia to steal intellectual property and obtain knowledge that could be used to develop CBRN weapons and their means of delivery, or advanced military technology”.

– Creating a state-of-the-art counter-terrorism operations centre to streamline the response of police and intelligence agencies in the event of an attack.

– Reviewing the effectiveness of the radicalisation referral programme Prevent.

– Introducing legal requirements on venue owners and operators of public spaces to take measures to keep the public safe from terror attacks.

– Preventing terrorist activity online by working with technology companies to tackle illegal and legal but harmful material.

– Trying to disrupt terror groups overseas and looking at the conditions that give rise to terrorism in other countries.

– Boosting the National Crime Agency by developing data, intelligence and investigative capabilities to tackle criminals in the UK and overseas. At the same time capacity in regional organised crime units will be increased alongside local policing as part of plans to hire 20,000 more officers by 2023 – some of whom will be dedicated to tackling serious organised crime.

– Stopping terrorists, criminals and illicit goods reaching UK streets by making UK border security more effective by 2025.