- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 7, 2001

President Bush yesterday told Eastern European leaders that the al Qaeda terrorist group is seeking nuclear weapons and compared the Taliban regime to the fascist leaders who ravaged Europe for half a century.
The goal of the terrorist groups is "to destabilize entire nations and regions," Mr. Bush said in a speech delivered live via satellite to leaders of 17 nations gathered in Warsaw.
"They are seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and, eventually, to civilization itself," Mr. Bush said.
In one of his most direct global appeals to date, Mr. Bush said, "Like the fascists and totalitarians before them, these terrorists al Qaeda, the Taliban regime that supports them, and other terror groups across our world try to impose their radical views through threats and violence.
"We see the same intolerance of dissent, the same mad, global ambitions, the same brutal determination to control every life and all of life."
Mr. Bush said if civilized countries join together quickly and with full commitment terrorism can be defeated.
"We will not wait for the authors of mass murder to gain the weapons of mass destruction. We act now, because we must lift this dark threat from our age and save generations to come."
As Mr. Bush addressed the Eastern European leaders, paramilitary police yesterday arrested two Turks attempting to sell weapons-grade uranium to undercover officers in Istanbul, police said. The suspects had agreed to sell the officers 2.56 pounds of uranium of a quality that could be used to develop a nuclear weapon, Reuters reported.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Washington Times that if the uranium was confirmed to be of weapons grade, it would be the first time that such material has reached the market.
"As long as I have been in this office, I have not come across a single case of weapons grade uranium," said the official, who noted that the U.S. Embassy in Turkey had not yet confirmed the quality of the seized uranium.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the United States has provided friendly countries high-tech detection devices to locate radioactive materials.
The devices can penetrate moving trains or shipping containers, the official said.
In his address, the president said coalition partners must cooperate on an unprecedented scope to defeat terror.
"All nations, if they want to fight terror, must do something. It is time for action," Mr. Bush reiterated in a Rose Garden appearance with French President Jacques Chirac. "Over time, it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You're either with us or you're against us in the fight against terrorism."
Mr. Bush walked a fine line when speaking to Eastern European leaders from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia.
While seeking to invoke the specter of World War II, the U.S. president risked offending leaders from Russia and former Soviet states, where communism still has supporters.
But Mr. Bush did not cross the line, as Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did last month when suggesting the Bush administration risked repeating the errors of 1938 when Britain conceded Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler by trying to win Arab support for the international coalition against terrorism.
"For more than 50 years, the people of your region suffered under repressive ideologies that tried to trample human dignity. Today, our freedom is threatened once again," Mr. Bush said from the White House Blue Room.
The Eastern European leaders gathered at the invitation of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to discuss ways they can cooperate in fighting terrorism. While some are seeking admission into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Bush administration officials said the president made no promise to promote their membership in exchange for cooperation.
Mr. Bush painted a striking picture of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
"It's terrifying. Women are imprisoned in their homes, and are denied access to basic health care and education. Food sent to help starving people is stolen by their leaders. The religious monuments of other faiths are destroyed.
"Children are forbidden to fly kites, or sing songs, or build snowmen. A girl of 7 is beaten for wearing white shoes. Our enemies have brought only misery and terror to the people of Afghanistan and now they are trying to export that terror throughout the world," the president said.
But Mr. Bush said the Afghan people, many of whom oppose the Taliban and its terrorist arm al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, can still act.
"I've seen some news reports that many Afghanistan citizens wish the Taliban had never allowed the al Qaeda terrorists into their country. I don't blame them. And I hope those citizens will help us locate the terrorists because the sooner we find them, the better the people's lives will be," Mr. Bush said.
Still, he vowed to protect civilians as the U.S.-led military campaign seeks to destroy the Taliban and al Qaeda.
"Our efforts are directed at terrorist and military targets because unlike our enemies we value human life. We do not target innocent people," he said.
Later in the day, after his White House meeting with Mr. Chirac, Mr. Bush said his statement that bin Laden is seeking weapons of mass destruction is not news.
"The reason I said that is because I was using his own words. He announced that this was his intention."
Mr. Chirac endorsed the Bush position, saying the U.N. Security Council had already acknowledged the legitimacy of the U.S. war on terrorism and said all countries must participate.
"Each must contribute according to its capabilities, but none may refuse to help in the war against terrorism," the French president said.
Yesterday's address came at the beginning of a weeklong campaign to boost world support for the war against terrorism, especially the first phase knocking out the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda.
The president will deliver a national address tomorrow from Atlanta, then this weekend attend a U.N. conference, where he will meet with more world leaders.
Ben Barber contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide