CBRN defense spending to increase sharply

A senior U.S. defense official has announced that funding to protect the nation against CBRN attacks will be sharply increased, AFP reports.

Andrew Weber, the assistant secretary of defense, told Congress that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's 2001 budget was $460 million, representing an increase of 18 percent over last year.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, in coordination with U.S. intelligence services, monitors the proliferation of WMDs and is responsible for protecting both the U.S. and its allies from CBRN attacks.

"I think it is the beginning of a trend," AFP reported Weber told a House of Representatives subcommittee about the increased funding. "Our warfighters and our fellow citizens are vulnerable to WMD attack. We must shape our defense programs to more effectively prevent, deter, or defeat this threat."

Weber's remarks followed the ending of a Washington summit discussing the nation's nuclear security. As part of the summit, representatives from nearly 50 nations pledged, within four years, to secure loose nuclear materials and to prevent the weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.

The increase in funding also follows a bipartisan congressional commission that concluded that a WMD attack will be employed by terrorists somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.