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Bush: al-Qaida Seeking Nuclear Weapons - 2001-11-06

President Bush says Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization are seeking weapons of mass destruction and want to export terrorism around the world. Mr. Bush made the comments in a speech sent by satellite to an anti-terrorism conference in Poland.

The president says the terrorists have dangerous aims. "They are seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and eventually to civilization itself," he said.

Mr. Bush says that is why the world must act now. "We will not wait for more innocent deaths. We will not wait for the authors of mass murder to gain their weapons of mass destruction. We act now because we must lift this dark threat from our age and save generations to come," he said.

The president told leaders of East European, Baltic and former Soviet republics that America is determined to rid the world of terrorism. He said it is a difficult struggle of uncertain duration. He talked about advances on the military and financial fronts. And he focused on a new challenge facing America: a terrorist assault in the form of potentially deadly anthrax spores.

"The people of my nation are now fighting this war at home. We face a second wave of terrorist attacks in the form of deadly anthrax that has been sent through the U.S. mail," he said.

Four people have died in the past few weeks from inhaled anthrax, the most lethal form of the disease. No group or individual has stepped forward to declare responsibility, and investigators say clues are not yet pointing in one direction.

After the president's speech, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters it still is not clear if the source of the anthrax was foreign or domestic.

When asked about Mr. Bush's comments on terrorists seeking nuclear weapons, Mr. Fleischer was evasive. He said similar statements have been made in the past by Clinton and Bush administration officials, most notably CIA Director George Tenet. The White House spokesman would not cite new evidence, saying only that these officials had good reason to say what they said.