Terrorists are likely to attack the United States using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study being briefed Tuesday to Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
It suggests the Obama administration bolster efforts to counter and prepare for germ warfare by terrorists.
"Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," states the report, obtained by FOX News. It is scheduled to be publicly released Wednesday.
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The commission is also encouraging the new White House to appoint one official on the National Security Council to exclusively coordinate U.S. intelligence and foreign policy on combatting the spread of nuclear and biological weapons.
The report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, led by former Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, acknowledges that terrorist groups still lack the needed scientific and technical ability to make weapons out of pathogens or nuclear bombs.
But it warns that gap can be easily overcome, if terrorists find scientists willing to share or sell their know-how.
"The United States should be less concerned that terrorists will become biologists and far more concerned that biologists will become terrorists," the report states.
The commission believes biological weapons are more likely to be obtained and used before nuclear or radioactive weapons because nuclear facilities are more carefully guarded. Civilian laboratories with potentially dangerous pathogens abound, however, and could easily be compromised.
"The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device," states the report.
It notes that the U.S. government's counterproliferation activities have been geared toward preventing nuclear terrorism. The commission recommends the prevention of biological terrorism be made a higher priority.
President Bush will meet with the commission on Wednesday, a White House spokesman told FOX News.
Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, called the report "an urgent call to action."
The report "should trigger strong, coordinated steps to improve our country's ability to prevent proliferation and thwart terrorist attacks using nuclear and biological weapons," Markey said in a written statement.
Study chairman Graham said anthrax remains the most likely biological weapon. However, he told the AP that contagious diseases — like the flu strain that killed 40 million at the beginning of the 20th century — are looming threats. That virus has been recreated in scientific labs, and there remains no inoculation to protect against it if is stolen and released.
Graham said the threat of a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons is growing "not because we have not done positive things but because adversaries are moving at an even faster pace to increase their access" to those materials.
He noted last week's rampage by a small group of gunmen in Mumbai.