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Bush, Blair Welcome Libya's Pledge to Dismantle WMD Programs

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2003 – Libya's leader, Colonel Moammar al Ghadafi, confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs and has agreed to allow inspectors from international organizations to enter his country, President Bush said here Dec. 19.

"These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination," he added. "Colonel Ghadafi's commitment, once it is fulfilled, will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful."

Great Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair called Ghadafi's decision historic and courageous. "It will make the region and world more secure," he said. "It shows that the problems of proliferation can, with good will, be tackled through discussion and engagement, to be followed up by the responsible international agencies."

Talks leading to this announcement began about nine months ago when Bush and Blair were contacted through personal envoys by Ghadafi. Bush said Ghadafi communicated his "willingness to make a decisive change in the policy of his government." Libyan officials have provided American and British officers with documentation on chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programs and activities, he added.

"Opposing proliferation is one of the highest priorities of the war against terror," said the president. "The attacks of September the 11th, 2001, brought tragedy to the United States and revealed a future threat of even greater magnitude. Terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people would, if they ever gained weapons of mass destruction, kill hundreds of thousands -- without hesitation and without mercy. And this danger is dramatically increased when regimes build or acquire weapons of mass destruction and maintain ties to terrorist groups."

The United States and its allies, said Bush, apply a broad and active strategy to address the challenges of proliferation, through diplomacy and decisive actions sometimes needed. He pointed to several areas where his administration has applied effort.

"We've enhanced our intelligence capabilities in order to trace dangerous weapons activities," Bush noted. "We've organized a proliferation security initiative to interdict dangerous materials and technologies in transit. We've insisted on multilateral approaches like that in North Korea to confront threats. We are supporting the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency to hold the Iranian regime to its treaty obligations. We obtained an additional United Nations Security Council Resolution requiring Saddam Hussein to prove that he had disarmed and when that resolution failed, we led a coalition to enforce it."

These actions by the United States and its allies, said the commander in chief, have sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction. "Those weapons do not bring influence or prestige," he added. "They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences."

Bush said there's another message that should be "equally clear." "Leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations," he added.

The president said he hopes other leaders will find an example in Libya's announcement. "Our understanding with Libya came about through quiet diplomacy," he said. "It is a result, however, of policies and principles declared to all. Over the last two years, a great coalition of nations has come together to oppose terror and to oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"We've been clear in our purpose," he continued. "We have shown resolve. In word and in action, we have clarified the choices left to potential adversaries. And when leaders make the wise and responsible choice, when they renounce terror and weapons of mass destruction, as Colonel Ghadafi has now done, they serve the interest of their own people and they add to the security of all nations."

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