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Bush: Wmds No Longer Tool of Last Resort


US president George Bush launches a new push today for greater international co-operation against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, with particular criticism aimed at the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency.

In a speech at Washington’s National Defence University, Bush will also outline the role that good US intelligence has played in recent non-proliferation successes in countries such as Libya and Pakistan, says a senior administration official.

Bush has been under renewed fire over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was the main rationale for going to war. Last week, he reversed course and established an independent commission to examine pre-war intelligence lapses.

Today, the president plans to sketch the change in the threat from weapons of mass destruction from the Cold War to the post-September 11, 2001, era, the official says. Now, nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction can no longer be considered a tool of last resort in a world where terrorists seek maximum destruction, Bush will argue, reprising a theme of a May 1, 2001, address at the National Defence University.

The president is to propose new controls at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, seen as ineffective by many in the Bush administration who cite its failure to stop weapons programmes in Libya, North Korea and other countries.

Bush will use the disclosure that the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme sold nuclear technology to countries such as Iran, Libya and North Korea as an example of the global nature of the problem.

After Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed last week to transferring nuclear secrets, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf at first granted him a pardon and then made it dependent on the outcome of an investigation.

Bush plans to show how US intelligence helped prod Musharraf into acting against Khan. While applauding Musharraf for making such a politically risky move, Bush is also to signal the US expectations that Pakistan finish the job of completely dismantling the black market network in which Khan was involved, the official says.

The US intelligence community is also to get presidential praise for helping to bring about Libya’s agreement in December with the United States and Britain to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes.

To expand on those successes, Bush will propose ways to strengthen various non-proliferation efforts, primarily by prodding other nations to get more involved and by pushing for greater accountability and effectiveness on the part of international organisations.

Bush is also to focus on the need to prevent countries from acquiring nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technology under the guise of building civilian power facilities and renew his call, first made before the UN General Assembly last year, for a new UN Security Council resolution demanding that all UN members enact stricter export controls and criminalise weapons proliferation.


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