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Fears from the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists have risen following the United Nations’ deputy chief warning issued recently. These could include a hacking attack on a nuclear power plant’s computer system, that might cause the uncontrolled release of radiation.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told a Security Council meeting, quoted by, that extremists and “vicious non-state groups” are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction which according to Eliasson, are becoming more and more accessible.

Eliasson added that there are legitimate concerns about the security of stockpiles of radioactive material suitable for making nuclear weapons but that are outside international regulation.

“Emerging technologies, such as 3D printing and unmanned aerial vehicles, are adding to threats of an attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD),” Eliasson said.

He said the international community needs robust defenses to stay ahead of this technological curve. “Preventing a WMD attack by a non-state actor will be a long-term challenge that requires long-term responses,” Eliasson said.

Brian Finlay, president of the Stimson Center in Washington, which has been supporting the work of the Security Council committee since 2004, said the resolution requiring all countries to take action to prevent non-state actors from getting WMD “has provided a near unprecedented rallying point for global efforts to prevent terrorist acquisition of these weapons.”

But challenges remain, he said, citing a steady increase in nuclear, biological and chemical incidents around the globe, “including notably by non-state actors.” He also cited growing access to the internet and potentially illegal technology transfers, saying there is “evidence that terrorist groups with regional or global ambitions continue to seek weapons of mass destruction.”

He called for civil society, industry and the general public to support the campaign against the growing threat of the world’s most dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands.