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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Rumsfeld urges Nato to upgrade
US soldiers on a Nato exercise in Spain
Nato is working on wholesale reorganisation
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has issued a bleak assessment that more terror attacks could happen at any time and could involve weapons of mass destruction.


The threat is not theoretical - it is real, it is dangerous

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

He told a meeting of Nato defence ministers that threats were real and urged the Western security alliance to increase its spending to develop protection against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks.

The meeting in Brussels agreed in general that Nato - formed at the beginning of the Cold War - needed to modernise to face current threats.

Ministers are working out an overhaul to present to the full Nato summit in Prague in November and also discussed the Kashmir crisis in the first meeting of the Nato-Russia Council.

'Defence impossible'

Mr Rumsfeld urged the traditionally defensive alliance to take more offensive action against threats including terrorist networks.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Mr Rumsfeld told European nations to spend more on their forces
He said it was impossible to defend against attacks such as the 11 September hijacking of planes which were then flown into buildings and that the only way to stop such disasters was to deal with terrorist groups before they could act.

He told the meeting: "The real situation is worse than the facts show.

"The threat is not theoretical. It is real. It is dangerous."

Lord Robertson, Nato's secretary general, acknowledged concerns that the alliance did not have the capability to deal with modern threats.

"The attack on the United States last September brought home to everyone that there is no relief in today's world from the obligations of defence or the need for military preparedness," he said.

Watershed meeting

Lord Robertson added that ministers would address plans to "improve Nato's defences against biological and chemical weapons".

He said the upcoming Prague meeting had to be a watershed in efforts to ensure forces were properly organised and equipped, "even if that means additional resources for defence".

Mr Rumsfeld also urged European countries to increase spending to bring their forces up to the technological level of the Americans.

At its first meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, the 19-nation alliance discussed immediate ways of defusing the crisis in Kashmir as well as practical issues of fighting terrorism, ensuring weapons of mass destruction did not fall into terrorists' hands and the reform of the Russian military.

Nato and Russia agreed to co-operate at a summit last week, but Russia remains wary of planned Nato expansion.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Janet Barrie reports from Brussels
"Defence ministers debated making NATO leaner and fitter"
See also:

05 Jun 02 | UK Politics
31 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
28 May 02 | Europe
14 May 02 | In Depth
15 May 02 | Country profiles
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