- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

President Bush yesterday laid out a proposal to enact a series of stringent new safeguards to prevent the global proliferation of atomic weapons, demanding that “the civilized world” crack down on the black-market trade in nuclear material and technology.

“There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated. Yet, this consensus means little unless it is translated into action,” the president said in a speech at the National Defense University in Fort McNair in Washington. “Every civilized nation has a stake in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction,” he added.

Mr. Bush called on foreign leaders to employ intelligence to “find the middlemen, the suppliers and the buyers” of nuclear material; to enact strict export controls and to secure all materials within their borders; and to close a “loophole” that allows nations such as North Korea and Iran to produce nuclear material that can be used to build bombs under the cover of civilian nuclear programs.

The president also called for the creation of a new committee within the United Nations’ nuclear-watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to establish and enforce safeguards, and to verify that nations are complying with international accords.

In his speech, Mr. Bush:

• Called for all nations to help secure weapons of mass destruction left over from the Cold War, especially those in the former Soviet Union.

• Demanded that the IAEA bar nations that violate international accords from holding powerful positions on the organization’s board of governors.

• Appealed to the Nuclear Suppliers Group — 40 nations that sell most nuclear technology — to refuse to sell equipment to any country not already equipped to make nuclear fuel.

Citing a black-market network run by A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, Mr. Bush said the civilized world must establish a foolproof system to prevent terrorists or leaders of rogue nations from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

The president said U.S. and British intelligence have uncovered a vast black market with weapons dealers who are “motivated by greed, or fanaticism, or both.”

For the first time, Mr. Bush divulged that the Khan network had supplied North Korea with sensitive technology on centrifuges, which are key components used to make highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. The administration had previously said that the network is suspected of supplying weapons technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

Mr. Bush cited specific U.S. and British intelligence that the Khan network also shipped advanced centrifuge parts manufactured at a Malaysian facility through Dubai to Libya aboard the BBC China, a German-owned ship. After the ship passed through the Suez Canal, it was stopped by German and Italian authorities.

Shortly after that, Libya announced that it was voluntarily ending its nuclear- and chemical-weapons programs.

The president criticized the IAEA, saying the U.N. watchdog has been ineffective at stopping weapons proliferation by nations such as Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea.

“For international norms to be effective, they must be enforced. It is the charge of the International Atomic Energy Agency to uncover banned nuclear activity around the world and report those violations to the U.N. Security Council,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush also demanded that nations in violation — or even suspected of breaking the rules — be prevented from holding powerful positions on the IAEA board of governors. He cited as a prime example Iran, which has a nuclear-energy program, but admitted last year that it had violated an agreement for 18 years that barred the nation from building uranium-enrichment facilities.

“The integrity and mission of the IAEA depends on this simple principle: Those actively breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules,” he said, drawing applause.

But the president also said U.N. member nations “must ensure that the IAEA has all the tools it needs to fulfill its essential mandate.”

The president urged other nations to help secure dangerous weapons from the Cold War era.

In calling for foreign leaders to close the “loophole” that allows some nations to enrich uranium under the guise of a civilian energy program, Mr. Bush said, “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.”

The president proposed that only nations that have signed a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty be allowed to import equipment for their nuclear-energy programs.

He also announced that three new countries — Canada, Singapore and Norway — are joining the 11 now involved in his Proliferation Security Initiative, which aims to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction.

The president said efforts to secure the world from nuclear threats are paramount in the war against terrorism.

“We’re determined to confront those threats at the source. We will stop these weapons from being acquired or built. … We’ll be unrelenting in the defense of free nations, and rise to the hard demands of dangerous times,” Mr. Bush said.

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