Curbing the Threat of Nuclear Weapons
DATE: October 8, 2004
One of the greatest threats facing our nation's security today is nuclear proliferation. Not only must we still seek to deny hostile nations' access to nuclear weapons, we must focus on an even bigger threat to our nation's security: nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. The entire global community faces increasing risk from terrorists intent on acquiring nuclear weapons technology and materials.
The President has called on our international partners to criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, enact export controls and secure dangerous materials within their borders. The U.S. has spearheaded efforts to facilitate collaboration with other nations to encourage nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. In 2003, the President launched the Proliferation Security Initiative calling on other sovereign states to join us in mutually enhancing the capabilities of military, intelligence, technical and law enforcement assets to thwart the movement of this technology to hostile states and terrorists. Today, more than 60 countries support the initiative and many are already participating in the Proliferation Security Initiative.
The collaborative efforts of nonproliferating states have yielded two significant successes this year, including the public unmasking of a nuclear black market network and Libya's decision to relinquish its WMD programs. The nuclear black market provided Iran, Libya and North Korea with materials and designs for nuclear weapons. Further information led to the interception of a ship bound for Libya carrying materials to build nuclear weapons. Once confronted, the Libyan government voluntarily agreed to end its nuclear and biological weapons programs and cooperate with international inspectors. With Libya's promise of nonproliferation, the U.S. responded in good faith by lifting several sanctions.
The success in Libya sends a clear message: abandoning the pursuit and development of illegal weapons can lead to better trade relations with the U.S. and other nations. The alternative is political isolation, economic hardship and other unwelcome consequences. We must continue to keep the pressure of these consequences on North Korea and Iran.
North Korea's continued effort to develop nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to its closest neighbors including China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. Working with these countries, we stand the greatest chance of influencing North Korea and must therefore continue to keep their involvement at the forefront of efforts to curtail the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea.
Curbing the spread of nuclear weapons is a significant undertaking and will continue to present new challenges in the ever-changing global community, but it is not optional. We must use every resource available to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorists. The success of our nuclear nonproliferation policy relies heavily on the continued coordination between sovereign states around the world and a willingness to act when our national interests are directly threatened.