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2/22/04 - BUSH ON NONPROLIFERATION - 2004-02-18

The U.S. is proposing a series of steps to strengthen efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The worry is that chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons that end up in the hands of terrorists or outlaw regimes could bring harm to the U.S. and other countries.

These weapons, says President George W. Bush, are a serious threat:

“America is confronting this danger with open eyes and unbending purpose. . . . The best intelligence is necessary to win the war on terror and to stop proliferation. So we are improving and adapting our intelligence capabilities for new and emerging threats. We are using every means of diplomacy to confront the regimes that develop deadly weapons. We are cooperating with more than a dozen nations, under the Proliferation Security Initiative, to interdict lethal materials transported by land, sea, or air.”

The U.S. is also aggressively pursuing black market operatives who sold equipment and expertise related to weapons of mass destruction. The network headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, is being dismantled. The network had operatives in Malaysia and a number of countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Khan and his associates sold nuclear weapons technology and know-how to Libya, Iran, and North Korea. This is just one example, says President Bush, of why nations need to act: “Last fall at the United Nations, I proposed a new Security Council resolution requiring all states to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls, and secure sensitive materials within their borders. I urge the council to pass these measures quickly.”

President Bush says the U.S. “will be unrelenting in the defense of free nations, and rise to the hard demands of our dangerous time.”