U.S. gets tough over WMD trade
From David Ensor
CNN Washington Bureau
A boarding team is dropped onto a vessel during interdiction exercises off Australia in September.
No option is off the table
-- Undersecretary of State John Bolton
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration says the U.S. and its allies are willing to use "robust techniques" to stop so-called rogue nations from getting materials to make weapons of mass destruction.
The blunt warning, delivered by U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton on Tuesday, could involve measures that include the interdicting and seizing of such "illicit goods" on the high seas or in the air if those nations weren't willing to follow a path of non-proliferation.
Bolton specifically cited Iran and North Korea, along with Syria, Libya and Cuba, as rogue nations "whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to U.S. interests."
He said those countries "will learn that their covert programs will not escape either detection or consequences."
Bolton also singled out Iran, saying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council if it discovers any more violations of nuclear non-proliferation agreements -- a step that has so far been opposed by U.S. allies in Europe.
"The real issue now is whether the board of governors (of the IAEA) will remain together in its insistence that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, or whether Iranian efforts to split the board through economic incentives and aggressive propaganda will succeed," he said. (Full story)
Bolton -- who oversees the State Department's arms control and international security efforts -- said that while the United States and its allies will "pursue diplomatic solutions whenever possible" to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, they might also use military assets to interdict WMD materials.
"If rogue states are not willing to follow the logic of non-proliferation norms, they must be prepared to face the logic of adverse consequences," Bolton said in a speech to a security conference sponsored by the Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis.
"It is why we repeatedly caution that no option is off the table."
Officials tell CNN that Bolton's remarks were cleared by Secretary of State Colin Powell and senior White House officials.
The under secretary said recent interdiction training exercises hosted by Australia, Britain, Spain and France will be followed by concerted action to stop trafficking in WMD and missile technologies.
The activities are part of a new Proliferation Security Initiative announced by U.S. President George W. Bush in Poland in May.
While 11 countries initially joined together to create the PSI, Bolton said more than 50 nations have now signaled that they are ready to participate with interdiction efforts.
"Properly planned and executed, the interception of critical technologies can prevent hostile states and terrorists from acquiring these dangerous capabilities," Bolton said. "At a minimum, interdiction can lengthen the time that proliferators will need to acquire new weapons capabilities."
Addressing the standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Bolton said the United States will insist on a tough verification regime as part of any deal made during six-party talks to resolve the dispute, in order to make sure Pyongyang cannot restart its program. (Full story)