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Inside Politics

Bush proposes steps to halt WMD proliferation

Says such weapons are 'the greatest threat to humanity today'

Bush calls for new efforts to stop spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Bush calls for new efforts to stop spread of weapons of mass destruction.

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CNN's Suzanne Malveaux on President Bush's proposals to halt WMD proliferation.
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U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is urging Pakistan to 'pull up by the roots' the illegal proliferation of nuclear technology.
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Bush says new threats require new methods to counter WMD proliferation (Part 1)
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(Part 2)
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Weapons of Mass Destruction
George W. Bush
Arms Control

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush offered several proposals Wednesday to halt the proliferation of unconventional weapons, saying the world must confront the dangers of the post-September 11 world "with open eyes and unbending purpose."

"The greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons," he said a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington.

The speech came as Bush faces criticism because no prohibited unconventional weapons have been found in Iraq. The threat of such weapons was the administration's justification for going to war.

Bush focused on two sources of the spread of weapons of mass destruction -- so-called "rogue nations" and black market operatives motivated by "greed, or fanaticism or both."

"The former dictator of Iraq possessed and used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. For 12 years, he defied the will of the international community," Bush said.

"He refused to disarm or account for his illegal weapons and programs. He doubted our resolve to enforce our word, and now he sits in a prison cell while his country moves toward a democratic future."

In making his case for tighter controls on weapons programs, Bush cited the nuclear black market uncovered by U.S. and British intelligence agents that was run by Abdul Qadeer Khan -- father of Pakistan's nuclear program.

Bush said the network established by Khan sold centrifuge technology used in enriching uranium to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan after he admitted his actions and apologized publicly for them. (Full story)

Bush said Musharraf had promised to share everything his officials learn about the network and "has assured us that his country will never again be a source of proliferation."

Bush said the breakup of the network was made possible by the cooperation of many nations -- the kind of cooperation needed to halt of proliferation of unconventional weapons.

"Our message to proliferators must be consistent and must be clear: We will find you, and we're not going to rest until you're stopped," Bush said.

The president called for an expanded mission for the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, which he announced May 31, 2003, during a speech in Krakow, Poland, just before the G-8 summit in Evian, France. (Full story)

Countries that agree to the initiative work to seize illegal weapons, missile technology and other agents of terrorism on planes and ships carrying "suspect cargo."

So far, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain have signed up, besides the United States. Canada, Singapore and Norway will join soon.

Bush proposed Wednesday that law enforcement agencies of PSI countries cooperate more fully to build on the tools developed in the war on terrorism.

"PSI participants should use the Interpol and all other means to bring justice to those who traffic in deadly weapons, to shut down their labs, to seize their materials, to freeze their assets. We must act on every lead. We will find the middlemen, the suppliers and the buyers.

He also called for tougher focus on the issue by the U.N. Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations.

Bush repeated his earlier proposal that the Security Council require members states "to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls and secure all sensitive materials within their borders." He said the United States would help other countries draft such laws.

He further proposed the expansion of programs designed to keep Cold War weapons out of the wrong hands, as is being done in states of the former Soviet Union.

Such efforts should include helping countries end the use of weapons-grade uranium in research reactors and keeping nuclear scientists in places such as Iraq and Libya from leaving, he said.

He said a loophole in the 34-year-old Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty must be closed so that nations such as North Korea and Iran cannot build weapons programs under the guise of civilian nuclear energy programs.

Bush urged the Nuclear Suppliers Group -- the roughly 40 nations that provide most of the world's nuclear technology -- to refuse to sell designs and equipment to any country not already capable of making nuclear fuel if they refuse to renounce efforts to enrich or reprocess the fuel.

"This step will prevent new states from developing the means to produce fissile material for nuclear bombs," Bush said.

The president proposed that nations restrict the sale of nuclear technology to countries that do not agree to vigorous inspections by the IAEA to ensure their nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes.

His called for the creation of a special IAEA committee to focus on safeguards and verifications. He said that only countries in good standing and not under investigation for nuclear violations should be allowed to serve on the IAEA board of governors.

Bush noted that Iran, which the United States suspects of having an extensive program to develop nuclear weapons, recently completed a two-year term on the board.

"Allowing potential violators to serve on the board creates an unacceptable barrier to effective action," he said.

CNN's John King and Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

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