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Bush urges global effort to end WMD trafficking

President Bush on Saturday called the leaders of Russia and Italy to discuss how to check the spread of dangerous weapons and keep them away from terrorists.
/ Source: The Associated Press

President Bush on Saturday called the leaders of Russia and Italy to discuss how to check the spread of dangerous weapons and keep them away from terrorists.

Bush also devoted his radio address to the issue of weapons of mass destruction, telling the American people that “the possibility of secret and sudden attack” with such arms “is the greatest threat before humanity today.”

Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Bush’s speech last week in which he proposed new ways to halt illicit weapons trafficking, White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said. Bush warned that black-market dealings by the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program had exposed holes in global enforcement efforts.

Bush wants other countries to spend more on programs aimed at securing vulnerable nuclear arsenals in Russia and other former Soviet-bloc nations. He made no mention of any additional U.S. dollars for the effort.

The Kremlin said Bush and Putin also discussed the results of a series of high-level contacts, including the recent trip to Washington by Putin’s chief of staff, Dmitry Medvedev. Last week he delivered a letter to Bush in which Putin pledged that Russia would remain a “reliable and predictable partner” for the United States.

Libya is a main topic
Bush and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi spoke about Libya, whose leader, Moammar Gadhafi, pledged in December to end development of weapons of mass destruction. Berlusconi last week became the first Western government head to visit Libya since Gadhafi announcement.

Bush told Berlusconi that as Libya continues to fulfill its commitments, it can further improve relations with the rest of the world, Mamo said.

On the radio, Bush said the United States is using all means of diplomacy to deal with governments that develop deadly weapons. He said the United States is cooperating with more than a dozen nations to track and intercept lethal materials transported by land, sea or air.

‘No one can doubt’ U.S. determination
The president said the country has shown its willingness to use force when necessary. “No one can now doubt the determination of America to oppose and to end these threats to our security,” Bush said.

Bush said the United States is pursuing black-market operatives who sell equipment and expertise related to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

He cited U.S. intelligence agencies’ work in exposing the underground Pakistani network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who was the father of the country’s nuclear weapons program, admitted being the mastermind of the scheme.

Khan was pardoned by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Bush urged the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution requiring all countries to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls and secure all sensitive materials within their borders.

“Terrorists and terrorist states are in a race for weapons of mass murder, a race they must lose,” he said. “They are resourceful — we must be more resourceful. They are determined — we must be more determined.”