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Bush Calls for Global Crackdown on WMDs - 2004-02-11

President Bush is calling for tougher international action to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush says current non-proliferation efforts have not done the job.

President Bush says more must be done to combat the international black market in weapons of mass destruction, and to prevent countries from developing nuclear arms under the guise of building civilian power plants.

He says current international nuclear safeguards have failed, offering as proof recent revelations from Pakistan. That country's premier nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has admitted selling technical know-how and components to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

"He is known throughout the world as the father of Pakistan's nuclear program," he said. "What was not publicly known until recently is that he also led an extensive international network for the proliferation of nuclear technology and know-how." In a speech at the National Defense University in Washington Wednesday, the president detailed the case against Mr. Khan. He said nothing about the pardon granted by the Pakistani government, focusing instead on ongoing efforts to break up Mr. Khan's proliferation network.

Mr. Bush said it points to the need for the nations of the world to come together to deal with a specific threat, just as they have to combat terrorism. "These regimes and other proliferators like Khan should know: we and our friends are determined to protect our people and the world from proliferation," he said.

He went to say there is a consensus that proliferation cannot be tolerated. But he warned that consensus means little unless it is translated into action. "As we track and destroy these networks we must also prevent governments from developing nuclear weapons under false pretenses," he said. The president said there is a loophole in international nuclear regulations that has been exploited by Iran and North Korea. He said they have been able to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials under the cover of civilian energy programs.

Mr. Bush pointed out that nuclear nations have agreed in the past to help non-nuclear states build nuclear power plants. But he said there should be limits on that assistance. "The world's leading nuclear exporters should ensure that states have reliable access at reasonable cost to fuel for civilian reactors, so long as those states renounce enrichment and reprocessing," he added. Mr. Bush also called for the expansion of programs like the ones set up to help former Soviet states dismantle their weapons and find jobs for their nuclear specialists. And, he said steps should be taken to strengthen the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor compliance with nuclear safeguards.