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Rumsfeld: US Will Destroy Bin Laden Terror Weapons If They Can Be Found - 2001-11-11

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the United States has bombed some sites in Afghanistan where terrorists could be developing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Rumsfeld says other sites remain under suspicion.

Mr. Rumsfeld says some of these sites are small, mobile, and difficult to pinpoint from the air. He says when America can act, it will. "We have bombed some of them. We do not know where all of them are," he said. "You can be certain that if we had very good information as to the location of a chemical or biological development area that we would do something about it."

During an appearance on the CBS television news program "Face the Nation," the Defense Secretary was asked if he believes Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist group have access to nuclear arms. "I think it is unlikely he has a nuclear weapon," he said. "It is certainly reasonable to assume he might well have chemical, biological, and possibly even radiation weapons."

In a recent interview, Osama bin Laden threatened to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States, if America uses them first against al-Qaida. Mr. Rumsfeld told the Fox News Network that Osama bin Laden is making statements that are harmful to his cause.

"First he attacks the United Nations and lumps every country in the world that is associated as being outside the acceptable range of behavior," he said. "Then he discusses his access to chemical, biological, and nuclear or radiation weapons. I am encouraged that he apparently is feeling a lot of pressure and is not as clever as people have given him credit for."

On the "Fox News Sunday" program, the Secretary of Defense was also questioned about the status of Kabul, and the reluctance of the Bush administration to clear the way for Afghan opposition forces to quickly take the city. "I think what is going to happen is that Kabul will, in fact be taken at some point. And it will be taken at a time and in a manner that it is going to be well understood that it is everyone's understanding that what is needed in Afghanistan and the capital, Kabul, is a broadly based government."

White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice re-enforced that theme on ABC's "This Week." She said Kabul is a city that means a great deal to all segments of the Afghan population. "It is not clear exactly how Kabul will play out," she said. "But we have been in discussions with the Northern Alliance and many of Afghanistan's neighbors and the sense is that Kabul will need to be an international city, a city that represents all of the Afghan people."

Echoing comments made earlier by the Secretary of Defense, Ms. Rice said the United States takes al-Qaida's stated desire to obtain weapons of mass destruction very seriously. She said America is moving aggressively to make sure the terrorists never get nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and the means to deliver them.