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Democratic Senator Robert Byrd Accuses Bush Administration of Inconsistent Foreign Policy - 2003-08-01

A U.S. Senate Democrat has delivered a scathing criticism of President Bush's foreign policy, saying it has led to a more dangerous world.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a long-time critic of Mr. Bush, accused the administration of an inconsistent foreign policy, and he cited North Korea and Iraq as examples.

"Since last October, when North Korea revealed that it plans to reprocess plutonium fuel rods into fissile material that could be used in nuclear weapons, the president and his advisors have consistently downplayed the nuclear threat from North Korea while hyping the nuclear threat from Iraq," he said. "And yet, while we have strong evidence that North Korea is working feverishly to accelerate its nuclear program, we still have not found a shred, not a shred, of evidence that Saddam Hussein's efforts to reconstitute Iraq's nuclear weapons program were anything more than bluster and hyperbole."

Senator Byrd said "the executive branch is preoccupied with the occupation of Iraq, and seems paralyzed when it comes to meaningful action" to deal with other global hotspots, including Iran, with its nuclear program, and war-torn Liberia. He said the U.S.-led reconstruction of Afghanistan and the war on terrorism "have seemingly been relegated to the status of afterthoughts."

Senator Byrd warned that the administration has been too focused on the war in Iraq and its aftermath, while ignoring more dangerous developments elsewhere in the world.

"A rare combination of volatile and dangerous events are poised to converge in the coming months," he said. "In large part, it is a storm of this administration's own making, fueled by the fear, confusion, and instability caused by the unprecedented and ill-advised doctrine of preemption."

As the senator argued that the administration's Iraq policy was contributing to a more dangerous world, at the White House, spokesman Scott McClelland argued otherwise.

"A free and democratic Iraq is going to lead to a more stable and peaceful Middle East, and it is going to make the world a safer place and it is going to make America a safer place," said McClelland.

Senator Byrd made his comments just hours before the Senate adjourned for a month-long recess.