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Bush: North Korea To Be ‘Held To Account’ For WMD Transfers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2006 – The United States will hold North Korea responsible if it attempts to transfer nuclear bombs or other weapons of mass destruction to America’s enemies, President Bush said on a national television news show.

On a segment of ABC television’s “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos asked Bush about the current status of U.S. relations with North Korea. On Oct. 9, North Korea announced it had successfully tested a nuclear bomb.

North Korea would “be held to account” if it attempted to sell or transfer nuclear weapons to Iran or al Qaeda, Bush told Stephanopoulos.

If it were discovered that North Korea was about to transfer a nuclear weapon, then “we would stop the transfer,” Bush said, whether it occurred via ships or airplanes.

Bush said North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il should realize his nation would face “a grave consequence” if it tried to engage in WMD proliferation.

The United Nations’ Security Council recently passed Resolution 1718, which placed a number of sanctions on North Korea to prevent it from exporting destructive technology to terrorists or rogue nations.

China, North Korea’s key benefactor, has reportedly urged Kim to back off from his nuclear program. Bush said China’s support of the U.N. sanctions against North Korea “surprised a lot of people.” The Chinese, Bush added, also are now inspecting incoming cargo from North Korea.

“If more than one nation is admonishing North Korea, it is more likely the leader in North Korea will make a rational decision,” Bush said.

The United States and the U.N. have been trying to get Kim’s government to renounce its nuclear weapons program and to rejoin six-party talks involving North Korea, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Stephanopoulos also asked Bush if he was more worried about a nuclear Iran, or a nuclear North Korea. The president replied: “They’re both worrisome.”

Bush said he believes peaceful nuclear power generation is good for the world’s economy and the environment. But, he added, it’s also important to ensure that destructive nuclear technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

“My hope is that there’s more countries using nuclear power,” Bush explained, “but without the capacity to make the materials which then could be converted into weaponry.”

Stephanopoulos asked Bush about rising U.S. casualties in Iraq, and how they affected him. “I think the hardest part of the presidency is to meet with families who’ve lost a loved one,” Bush said.

Bush said he was amazed by the fortitude displayed by the surviving families and loved ones. “These are people that by and large have told me that their loved one chose to be there and believe in the mission,” he said.

The insurgents in Iraq had planned a campaign of stepped up violence in Iraq just ahead of U.S. elections in November, Bush said.

“They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause the [U.S.] government to withdraw,” Bush explained.

The president also told Stephanopoulos he’s against partitioning Iraq into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite elements, because that would create more separatism and sectarian violence.

“The Iraqi people don’t want a partition,” Bush said. “The Iraqi people voted for a constitution which spells out federalism that now needs to be further refined.”

The United States wants to establish a new Iraq “that can defend itself, sustain itself and govern itself and be an ally in the war on terror in the heart of the Middle East,” Bush said.

A democratic Iraq “will be a defeat for the terrorists,” Bush said, because they’ll lose a place from which to launch new attacks on the United States and its allies and to spread their philosophy of hate and intolerance.

Bush stated his support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, noting Maliki “has got what it takes to lead a unity government.”

The president said he recognizes “the degree of difficulty” in Iraq. Yet, he vowed: “We won’t cut and run.” Pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq now before victory is achieved, Bush emphasized, would be tantamount to surrender.

“If we were to leave before the job is done, in my judgment, al Qaeda would find a safe haven from which to attack (the United States),” Bush said.

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