- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Calling nuclear terrorism the greatest threat to U.S. national security, Sen. John Kerry yesterday said that if elected, he would secure the world’s supply of plutonium and enriched uranium by the end of his first term.

In Florida yesterday, Mr. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said President Bush has paid too little attention to the threat of nuclear terrorism. He said it is relatively easy for terrorists to make a bomb once they obtain plutonium or enriched uranium, and therefore, the key is to deny them access to these materials.

“If we secure all bomb-making materials, ensure that no new materials are produced for nuclear weapons, and end nuclear-weapons programs in hostile states like North Korea and Iran, we can and will dramatically reduce the possibility of nuclear terrorism,” the Massachusetts senator said.

Mr. Kerry added that the United States must look to nonmilitary solutions to preserve its national security and that it cannot successfully act alone.

“We can’t eliminate this threat on our own. We must fight this enemy in the same way we fought in World War I, World War II and the Cold War — by building and leading strong alliances,” Mr. Kerry said. “Our enemy has changed and is not based within one country or one totalitarian empire, but our path to victory is still the same: We must use the might of our alliances.”

This was the second national-security speech Mr. Kerry gave in the past week. On Thursday, he said international alliances must be restored in the 21st century to detect and prevent terrorism.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican, said the speech was “little more than political ‘me-tooism.’”

“While John Kerry today ignored the remarkable progress that has been made under President Bush, he largely embraced the goals that the president has already laid to make the world a safer place,” he said.

Mr. Goss said the administration has had success with the disarmament of Libya, multilateral talks with North Korea, disruption of the network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, and an agreement among Group of Eight nations to make nonproliferation its top international security concern.

But Mr. Kerry said the administration hasn’t made progress on North Korea, and that the United States should acquiesce to North Korea’s request for direct talks.

“We should maintain the six-party talks, but we must also be prepared to talk directly with North Korea. This problem is too urgent to allow China or others at the table to speak for us,” he said.

As for Iran, Mr. Kerry said the United States should “call their bluff” by offering, along with other states, nuclear fuel that Iran claims to need for power and collect the existing spent fuel that Iran could use to create a bomb.

“If Iran does not accept this, their true motivations will be clear. The same goes for other countries possibly seeking nuclear weapons. We will oppose the construction in any new countries of any new facilities to make nuclear materials, and lead a global effort to prevent the export of the necessary technology to Iran,” he said.

Also yesterday, Mr. Kerry ran the first of what his campaign says is $18 million worth of ads during June. The new ad, which will run in 19 states, features Mr. Kerry calling the nation “a country of optimists.”

Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said they have been thrilled with the response to the ads Mr. Kerry has run, which are mostly positive and biographical.

“Because of our record ad buy, Kerry’s image is improving in battleground states, while Bush’s is deteriorating,” she said in a conference call with reporters.

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