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Bush Repeats his Warning to Iran, Iraq, North Korea - 2002-01-31


President Bush has repeated his warning against countries developing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush says the world must stop terrorists from acquiring chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. In his State of the Union address, President Bush singled out Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as "an axis of evil" that could threaten world peace by giving terrorists weapons of mass destruction.

He has repeated that warning, saying he will not allow any country to threaten the United States or its allies.

"If you are one of these nations that develops weapons of mass destruction and you are likely to team-up with a terrorist group, or you are now sponsoring terror, or you do not hold the values we hold dear true to your heart, then you too are on our watch list," said Mr. Bush. "People say, 'What does that mean?' It means they better get their house in order, that is what it means. It means they better respect the rule of law. It means they better not try to terrorize America and our friend and allies, or the justice of this nation will be served on them as well."

White House officials say the president is not signaling imminent military action against any of the countries and is still open to talks with Iran and North Korea. The State Department says there will be no dialogue with Iraq until it agrees to the return of UN weapons inspectors.

North Korea, Iran, and Iraq have all rejected the president's claims that they pose a terrorist threat. Iranian radio reported the country's foreign minister canceled plans to attend the World Economic Forum in New York to protest what state radio called the "humiliating" attitude of the United States.

President Bush says the international community must remain on guard as thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. Speaking in the southern city of Atlanta, Mr. Bush said the fight to defeat terror will not stop with Afghanistan.

"For the sake of the civilized world, for the sake of stability for the world, for the sake of a peaceful world," said Mr. Bush, "we must not only find them in Afghanistan, we must find them wherever they hide in any country that harbors terrorism around the world."

The president stressed he will spend "whatever it takes" to defeat terrorism. He is asking Congress for the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years.

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