- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

ROME, Feb. 7 (UPI) — The international treaties and arrangements meant to keep nuclear weapons from spreading to terrorists may not be working, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

The U.S. official also called on "responsible" nations to craft a new set of political, economic and "if necessary, military steps" to prevent the weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

"I rank the problems we're facing with the proliferation of these technologies, enormously lethal technologies, vastly more lethal than anything the world has known, to be a problem of the first order," Rumsfeld said en route to Europe to meet with other NATO ministers of defense.

North Korea announced Wednesday it would be restarting a nuclear reactor, which U.S. officials fear could be used to reprocess plutonium, a central ingredient for a powerful nuclear weapon, The Washington Post reported.

"I think that what is taking place in North Korea is not only a problem for the world with respect to North Korea and the Korean peninsula … it's even a bigger problem," he said.

"I think it will prove in a year or two or three to be the example — the leading example — that many of the non-proliferation efforts that the world has community has engaged which have had a degree of success over a period of time may be in need of review and attention."

Rumsfeld pointed to the fact that since the end of the Cold War, the number of nuclear weapons states has increased to include India, Pakistan, and, possibly nations like North Korea and Iran.

"When you marry that with terrorist states that have relationships with terrorist networks you have the potential for very serious circumstance for the world," he said.

Rumsfeld did not suggest how treaties like the nuclear non-proliferation treaty should be changed.

"I'm not advocating anything. What I am doing is acting as an interested observer of the world and opining that I think the world ought to take notice of," he said.

The first step is to raise the issue on the world stage.

"I think the beginning of right-minded behavior of democratic states is information and knowledge and facts. And I think it is the job of leadership to bring those facts before people and begin to make them aware of exactly what it would be like living in a world like that," he said.

The second step is sharing information and intelligence on proliferation problems with "interested nations."

"They tend to come to roughly the same decisions if we are working off the same set of facts. To the extent we are not, it's not surprising that we go off in different directions," he said.

It is not a matter the United States and a handful of allies can handle alone.

"If I know anything I know that this is a problem that can not be dealt with unless nations are pulling together, working together. One nation, two nations, five nations, 10 nations seriously working on this problem won't do it," he said. "It's going to take an enormous effort across the globe for countries to really focus on this and then cooperate and take steps together, political steps, economic step and if necessary military steps to see the problem is addressed in a responsible and an orderly way."

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