Skip to comments.Bush Plans to Focus on Fuel Ban to End Nuclear Arms Race
Posted on 02/10/2004 8:37:28 PM PST by Pokey78
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 President Bush is to announce a new proposal on Wednesday to limit the number of nations allowed to produce nuclear fuel, senior administration officials said Tuesday. He will declare that the global network in nuclear goods set up by Abdul Qadeer Khan, developer of Pakistan's bomb, exposed huge gaps in agreements to stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology, they added.
In an afternoon speech at the National Defense University, they said, Mr. Bush will call for a re-examination of what one official called the "basic bargain" underlying the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: that those states that promise not to pursue nuclear weapons will receive help in producing nuclear fuel for power generation.
Iran admitted last year that it had cheated on that agreement for 18 years, secretly building nuclear weapons facilities. North Korea abandoned the treaty altogether last year and declared it was making nuclear weapons.
Dr. Khan's network secretly sold equipment to both countries, and to Libya, American and Pakistani officials have said.
The administration officials said Mr. Bush would not call for a reopening of the 1970 treaty, which one said would be "too hard." Instead, he will appeal to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, 40 countries that sell most nuclear technology, to refuse to sell equipment to any country that is not already equipped to make nuclear fuel, either by enriching uranium or by reprocessing spent fuel for plutonium.
But the officials did not describe any new enforcement mechanisms.
In a briefing on Tuesday evening, one administration official said Iran and North Korea were examples of "regimes which have cynically exploited loopholes in the existing treaty" to build up their capacity to produce weapons-grade nuclear fuel.
While proliferation experts have long agreed that the treaty is flawed, Mr. Bush's proposal is bound to raise protests from developing nations, which say the United States and, by extension, the other declared nuclear states Britain, France, Russia and China are trying to extend their rights to produce weapons while denying that status to other states.
In addition to those five, Israel, India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and North Korea is believed by American intelligence agencies to have at least two and perhaps several more.
Israel is a particularly difficult case for the United States because it has never declared its nuclear ability and has never signed the nonproliferation treaty. Its Arab neighbors and Pakistan have said that any reopening of nuclear regulation should start with forcing Israel to sign the treaty.
In the briefing, the official also said Mr. Bush would discuss for the first time the details of how Dr. Khan's network operated, being careful to praise President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and to portray Dr. Khan, the former head of Khan Research Laboratories, as a rogue scientist.
Another administration official said Mr. Bush would cast the Khan case as a victory for American intelligence operations, describing "how we uncovered the reach of the network, how we identified the key individuals, how we followed the key transactions, and how we monitored the movement of material and recorded conversation and penetrated operations."
The director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, made a similar case last week, and administration officials clearly hope the story of the intelligence surrounding the Khan network will be a counterpoint to criticisms of how Iraq's weapons program was misjudged.
Mr. Bush is also to name B. S. A. Tahir, a Sri Lanka-born trader who moved to Dubai as a child, as the "other major node" in the Khan network.
It was Mr. Tahir, who lives much of the time in Kuala Lumpur, who negotiated with a Malaysian company called Scomi to produce parts for high-speed centrifuges, which enrich uranium. It was the interception of one such shipment to Libya in October that allowed American intelligence officials to present Pakistan with evidence about Dr. Khan.
In recent days, efforts to reach Mr. Tahir have been unsuccessful. He owns 49 percent of a computer company, S.M.B. Computers, in Dubai, and Scomi officials have identified him as one of the men who negotiated the deal under which they produced the parts.
Mr. Bush's speech will mark the first time Mr. Tahir has been publicly identified by the United States as a major player, though intelligence officials have mentioned, on background, what they say was his central role in arranging the transfer of centrifuge components from Malaysia to Dubai and on to Libya.
Mr. Bush's proposals appear to be intended to crack down on states like North Korea and Iran without reopening negotiations that could limit the United States' own ability to produce nuclear fuel for weapons and power, or stop allies like Japan from producing such fuel for power plants. China says Japan's program could be diverted to weapons.
He is expected to implicitly reject, for example, an alternative proposal by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, for an international organization to control the production of all nuclear fuel and to control how it is used.
The Bush adminstration has already, in effect, dismissed that approach as unworkable, in part, experts say, because it would limit Washington's ability to produce fuel for its nuclear arsenal.
Mr. Bush's insistence on moving ahead with research on a new class of so-called bunker-busting nuclear weapons has been cited by his opponents including many in Europe as an example of a double standard in which he seeks to stop other states from building weapons while continuing to improve the American arsenal.
The official also said in the briefing that Mr. Bush would propose expanding the Nunn-Lugar program, in which Congress appropriates funds to destroy weapons and retrain former Soviet weapons experts.
His plan would extend the program to scientists in other nations, including Iraq. But Mr. Bush will propose no new financing, and no expansion of the program is included in the budget he sent to Congress last week. Democrats say the existing program is underfinanced.
Mr. Bush will also call for an expansion of the Proliferation Security Initiative, a loose affiliation of countries, organized by the United States, to intercept weapons of mass destruction. The seizure of the Libyan shipment in October was the biggest single success, though other equipment has been seized on the way to North Korea.
In the briefing, the administration official said Mr. Bush would propose several changes to the internal operations of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency, which has had rocky relations with the Bush administration over Iraq, did not know that Mr. Bush planned to speak on nonproliferation until informed by a reporter on Tuesday.
The official said Mr. Bush would call for a new committee within the agency to monitor compliance with "safeguards" agreements, which allow inspections where nuclear fuel or weapons work may be conducted.
He will also call on the agency's board to bar from it any country under investigation. Iran was a board member throughout last year's confrontation over allowing full inspections of its facilities.
Interesting how these politicians like to ban other countries from doing things.
So why is mushareff handling Qadeer with kid gloves? why can qadeer keep his profits from the nuclear sales, wht is he protecting qadeer from interview and international interogation?
And now action from GW which I had anticepated last week is happening but very weak......something is cooking
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