NEWS

Olympic security under scrutiny

Security planning for the Athens 2004 Olympics is proceeding «successfully,» with the help of other countries, including the United States, the Public Order Ministry said yesterday. It was responding to a newspaper report that American experts had found Greece was not prepared for an attack from weapons of mass destruction. The report on security preparations in the face of possible attack with radiological, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, which was carried out for the Greek government, was revealed yesterday by To Vima. «The Greek security planning does not cover the possibility of averting, defeating or having a reserve capability of dealing with a biochemical incident with mass casualties (more than 1,000 victims) and damage,» the report said. It called for more chemical antidotes and blood reserves. The Public Order Ministry responded, «The Olympic Security Planning, in strict accordance with the timetables, is developing successfully with the significant contribution of the Olympic Advisory Group (USA, Britain, Australia, Germany, France, Spain and Israel).» In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States felt the Greeks «have the will and the resources to hold a secure and successful Olympics.» He added, «Our feeling is that this far in advance, one year in advance, is a good time for exercises to identify deficiencies or areas that need to be worked on – so that by the time we get to the Games everything can be the way it should be.»