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Bush Says US Needs Nuclear Arms As Deterrent

President Bush says he is committed to reducing America's nuclear arsenal. But he also stresses the United States will do what it must to deter attacks from other countries including Iraq. Mr. Bush says all options are on the table.

The president says he believes in the use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent. "I view our nuclear arsenal as a deterrent, as a way to say to people who would harm America 'don't do it!'"

The notion of a nuclear deterrent came into being during the Cold War, when the focus was on the American and Russian arsenals. But Mr. Bush indicates that in the 21st century, nuclear weapons could be used to deter other countries from using biological or chemical weapons.

"We have got all options on the table because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us or our allies or friends," he said.

Mr. Bush did not mention any country by name. But a recent Pentagon nuclear planning review said five nations, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea, pose a new kind of threat that could warrant a nuclear response.

Excerpts of the classified Pentagon document recently appeared in major American newspapers. The review also makes mention of Russia and China but makes clear Russia is no longer considered an adversary.

President Bush said the review is part of an ongoing process, and stressed that it is necessary as the United States prepares to meet new threats and new challenges.

"First of all, the nuclear review is not new. It went on in previous administrations," he said. "Secondly, the reason we have a nuclear arsenal that I hope is modern, upgraded and can work is to deter any attack on America."

Mr. Bush refused to go into specifics. Secretary of State Colin Powell denied Sunday that any new weapons systems are being planned.