LONDON (Agencies) - A country should have the right to attack another if it is harbouring a potential terrorist threat, the US homeland security chief said in remarks appearing to justify recent US raids in Pakistan and Syria. Laying out what amounts to a broadened definition of self-defence, Michael Chertoff said international law should accommodate a country's need to deter a possible threat abroad even if it meant taking pre-emptive action. His remarks, at a discussion on democracy held in the British parliament, follow recent secret raids by US forces into Pakistan and Syria that were justified using a similar rationale and drew condemnation from those countries. "International law must begin to recognise that part of the responsibility of sovereignty is the responsibility to make sure that your own country does not become a platform for attacking other countries," Chertoff told an audience on Thursday night. "There are areas of the world that are ungoverned or ungovernable but nevertheless technically within the sovereignty of boundaries. Does that mean we simply have to allow terrorists to operate there, in kind of badlands, where they can plan, they can set up laboratories, they can experiment with chemical weapons and with biological weapons?" he said. Chertoff described a world in which the United States, and other democracies, were facing extraordinary threats that required them to be super-vigilant and responsive. Waiting to see if others would attack was not good enough, he said. "If country X, within its borders, is openly tolerating or incapable of managing a location where people are consistently attacking a neighbour, is it sufficient to say, 'well, it's within their sovereign territory, nobody can do anything about it'? I think that's not true and I think there's a serious question about whether that's what the law ought to be. "The larger question of the responsibility to make sure your own country is not a platform for attacking others is a matter that needs to be seriously considered in terms of what the law should be," he said. Meanwhile, US intelligence chief Michael McConnell said the world faces a growing risk of conflict over the next 20 to 30 years amid an unprecedented transfer of wealth and power from West to East. Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence, predicted rising demand for scarce supplies of food and fuel, strategic competition over new technologies, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. "What I'm suggesting - there's an increased potential for conflict," McConnell said in a speech Thursday to intelligence professionals in Nashville, Tennessee. "During the period of this assessment, out to 2025, the probability for conflict between nations and within nation-state entities will be greater," he said. Conditions for "large casualty terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, or less likely, nuclear materials" also will increase during that period, he said. McConnell described a multi-polar world in 2025 shaped by the rise of China, India and Brazil, whose economies will by then match those of the western industrial states. Territorial expansion and military rivalries are not likely but cannot be ruled out, and the perception of oil shortages could trigger conflicts between states, he said. "We judge these sweeping changes will not trigger a complete breakdown of the current international system, but the next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks and many, many challenges," he said. "China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country," he said. India will have either the third or second largest economy and will press to become "one of the significant poles of this new world," he said. Russia also will be part of that group but only if it expands and diversifies its economy and integrates it with the world global economy, he said. "Now, just think about it: 1.4 billion people without these basic necessities will create significant tensions on the globe, tensions that world bodies and larger states will have to contend," he said. "One of our greatest concerns continues to be that a terrorist group or ... some other dangerous group might acquire and employ biological agents or less likely a radiological device to create casualties greater than 9/11," he said.