The United States will attempt to "roll back" proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the world -- and may use force to take away these deadly arsenals from rogue states, a senior US government official warned.
Under Secretary of State John Bolton also told Congress that Washington will not offer disarmament inducements to North Korea, will punish suppliers of dual-use materials and offer Iraqi scientists specializing in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) a chance to emigrate, presumably to the United States.
"We aim ultimately not just to prevent the spread of WMD, but also to eliminate or 'roll back' such weapons from rogue states and terrorist groups that already possess them or are close to doing so," Bolton told the House Committee on International Relations.
John Bolton: US to eliminate WMD in all rogue states, by force if necessary
He noted that while the administration of President George W. Bush favored peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the proliferation threat, it ruled out no options, including "preemptive military force where required."
"Moreover, the logic of adverse consequences must fall not only on the states aspiring to possess these weapons, but on the states supplying them as well," he warned without elaborating.
The United States has repeatedly accused Russia, China and some cash-starved former Soviet republics of supplying sensitive, dual-use technologies to Iran, Libya, North Korea and other countries deemed by Washington a proliferation threat.
In its most recent report on proliferation, the Central Intelligence Agency named Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, India and Pakistan among countries with the most active weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.
Bolton's warning followed Bush's announcement last week in Poland of a so-called Proliferation Security Initiative aimed at broadening international cooperation in interdicting shipments of WMD- and missile-related equipment and technologies.
As part of this broad campaign, the United States will offer Iraqi weapons scientists an opportunity to emigrate because of serious concern that rogue states or terrorist organizations will try to hire them, said the under secretary of state.
Keeping up pressure on Iran, he accused the Islamic republic of developing a uranium mine, uranium conversion and enrichment facilities and a heavy water production plant as part of its clandestine nuclear weapons program.
Bolton insisted that "there will be no inducements" on the part of the Bush administration to persuade North Korea to "completely, verifiably, and irreversibly" abandon its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea created an international crisis last year, when it admitted to a US envoy that it had pursued a nuclear weapons drive in breach of a 1994 accord.
Since then, Pyongyang has announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, restarted a five-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyang, and admitted to actually having atomic arms, while offering to scrap the program in exchange for a non-aggression treaty and economic aid.
But in an apparent broadening of US preconditions for a rapprochement with Pyongyang, known as the "bold approach," Bolton made clear US aid might be provided to the Stalinist state only after dramatic policy changes -- in addition to nuclear disarmament.
"Assistance would be provided to North Korea through the 'bold approach' if the North addresses concerns about its WMD and missile program and exports as well as other issues, including its conventional force disposition, narcotics trafficking, human rights, and its continued sponsorship of terrorism outside its borders," he pointed out.
The under secretary of state said the administration had already imposed 12 sets of economic sanctions against alleged proliferators this year and was preparing to slap a dozen more.
He did not name countries or firms that will be targeted by sanctions.
© 2003 AFP