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Bush Wants Tougher Focus On WMDs (Feb. 12)

WASHINGTON --- The United States and its allies “will act on every lead to find the middlemen, the suppliers and the buyers” to stop the spread of deadly weapons, President Bush said today, proposing ways to strengthen the world’s efforts toward that goal.

Bush spoke at the National Defense University at Fort McNair here.

The president proposed that the work of the Proliferation Security Initiative be expanded to address more than shipments and transfers.

“Building on the tools that we’ve developed to fight terrorists, we can take direct action against proliferation networks,” he said. “PSI should use 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. The message to proliferators must be consistent, and it must be clear: We will find you, and we’re not going to rest until you’re stopped.”

Bush called on nations to strengthen the laws and international controls that govern proliferation. Last fall, he proposed a new United Nations Security Council resolution. “It would require all states to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls and secure all sensitive materials within their borders,” the president said.

Efforts to keep weapons from the Cold War and other dangerous materials out of the wrong hands should be expanded, he added. “The nations of the world must do all we can to secure and eliminate nuclear and chemical and biological and radiological materials,” he said. “As we track and destroy these networks, we must also prevent governments from developing nuclear weapons under false pretenses.”

Noting that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was designed more than 30 years ago to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons beyond states that already possessed them, the president said the treaty has a loophole.

“Under the treaty,” he added, “nuclear states agreed to help non-nuclear states develop peaceful atomic energy if they renounced the pursuit of nuclear weapons. These regimes are allowed to produce nuclear material that can be used to build bombs under the cover of civilian nuclear programs.”

Bush said “the world must create a safe, orderly system to fuel civilian nuclear plants without adding to the danger of weapons of proliferation. The world’s leading nuclear exporters should ensure that states have reliable access at reasonable costs to fuel for civilian reactors so long as those states renounce enrichment and reprocessing.”

Enrichment and reprocessing, he added, are not necessary for nations seeking to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The president said the 40 Nuclear Supplies Groups nations “should refuse to sell enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to any state that does not already possess full-scale, functioning enrichment and reprocessing plants.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency is charged to uncover banned nuclear activity around the world and report violations to U.N. Security Council.

“We must ensure IAEA has all the tools it needs to fulfill its mandate,” said Bush. “America and other nations support the additional protocol which requires states to declare a broad range of nuclear activities and facilities and allow IAEA to inspect those facilities.”

The president’s fifth proposal is that by next year only states that have signed the additional protocol be allowed to import equipment for their civilian nuclear programs.

To ensure IAEA is organized to take action, the president’s sixth step proposes the creation of a special committee of the IAEA board. It will focus on safeguards and verification.

Finally, Bush noted, countries under investigation for violating nuclear nonproliferation obligations are currently allowed to serve on the IAEA board of governors.

“Allowing potential violators to serve on the board creates an unacceptable barrier for effective action,” he said. “No state under investigation for violations should be allowed to serve on the board of governors or the special committee.”

Any state that comes under investigation should be suspended, he said. “The integrity and mission of the IAEA depends on this simple principle – those actively engaged in breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules,” said Bush.

In the last two years, “a great coalition has come together to defeat terrorism and oppose the spread of the weapons of mass destruction – the inseparable commitments of the war on terror,” said the president.

“We’ve shown that proliferators can be discovered and stopped,” he added. “We’ve shown that for regimes that chose defiance, there are serious consequences.

“The way ahead is not easy, but it is clear,” said Bush. “We will proceed as if the lives of our citizens depend on our vigilance, because they do.”

Bush Asks For Tougher Focus on Weapons of Mass Destruction