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Weapons of Mass Destruction By: John Bolton
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 27, 2002

John Bolton, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, spoke at David Horowitz's Restoration Weekend. Frontpage Magazine provides the transcript of Mr. Bolton's speech:

September 11 has changed a lot for the United States and the world. I wanted to try and complement some of the things that you've heard from other speakers about a critical element of American foreign policy. Although Iraq is very much on our minds at the moment, and understandably so, there is a broader problem out there that I'd like to address tonight.

When the United States and other nations began working together on the problem on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction over 30 years ago the largest source of the most dangerous materials was contained within the two super powers. Weapons of mass destruction were considered weapons of last resort. Non-State actors were not yet considered to pose a meaningful threat, since they were not linked to abundant sources of supply.

With the end of the cold war, however, the international security environment changed, and the proliferation problem increased. Now more States are seeking increasingly advanced, WMD as we call it in the State Department-- everything has letters -- weapons of mass destruction. More States are entering the supply market, and all of this is compounded by the fact that terrorists are also seeking weapons of mass destruction.

When the world witnessed the destructive potential of terrorism on September 11th we were reminded of the need to remain steadfast in recognizing emerging threats to our security, and to think one step ahead of those who wish to do us harm.

Today, the United States believes that the greatest threat to international peace and stability comes from rogue States and Trans-National terrorist groups that are unrestrained in their choice of weapon and undeterred by conventional means.

The September 11 attacks showed the terrorist groups were much better organized, much more sophisticated, and much more capable of acting globally than we had assumed possible. Our concept of what terrorists are able to do to harm innocent civilians has changed fundamentally. There can be no doubt that given the opportunity terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda would not hesitate to use disease as a weapon against the unprotected, to spread chemical agents to inflict pain and death on the innocent, or to send suicide bound [adherents] [ph] armed with radiological explosives on missions of murder.

Terrorist groups seek to acquire chemical biological or nuclear weapons anyway they can. State sponsors of terrorism are actively working to acquire weapons of mass destruction and their missile delivery systems. Here lies a dangerous confluence of nefarious motives, and we must prevent the one from abetting the other.

As President Bush said in September, "in cells and in camps terrorists are plotting further destruction and building new bases for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions, when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale."

To ensure the terrorist groups and their State sponsors are never able to gain access to chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, or the means to deliver them via missile the United States is employing a variety of methods to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including multi-lateral agreements, diplomacy, arms control, threat reduction assistance, export control - you can tell I work at the State Department, right! And other means where necessary. Most importantly, we must maintain an unvarnished view of the proliferators, and disrupt their supply of sensitive goods and technology before it contributes to an increased WMD capability or falls into the hands of terrorists or other rogue States.

Without question the States most aggressively seeking to acquire WMD and their means of delivery are Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, followed by Libya and Syria. It is no coincidence that these States, which are uniformly hostile to the United States, as well as to many of our friends and allies, are among the ones we identify as State sponsors of terrorism.

Iran, one of the most egregious State sponsors of terror, is known to be seeking dual-use materials, technology, and expertise for its offensive biological and chemical weapons programs from entities in Russia, China, and Western Europe. It is also seeking to upgrade its large ballistic missile force with the help of Russian, North Korean, and Chinese firms. Our Intelligence shows clearly that Iran seeks to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, and we are, thus, extremely concerned about transfers to Iran of dual-use materials. Once a rogue State's intentions become apparent we should assume that the dual-use technologies it acquires will be used for illegitimate purposes.

Iraq, and there's obviously a lot to say about Iraq. I am just going to focus here on the WMD question. Despite U.N. sanctions Iraq maintains an aggressive program to rebuild the infrastructure of its nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs. In each instance Iraq's procurement agents are actively working to obtain both weapon specific and dual-use materials and technologies critical to their rebuilding and expansion efforts, using front companies, and whatever illicit means are at-hand.

We estimate that once Iraq acquires [physial] [ph] material, whether from a foreign source or by securing the materials to build an indigenous physial material capability it could fabricate a nuclear weapon well within one year. It has rebuilt its civilian chemical weapons infrastructure and renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including [mustard, saran, and viaz.] [ph] It actively maintains all key aspects of its offensive biological weapons program. And in terms of support for terrorism we have established that Iraq has permitted Al-Qaeda to operate within its territory.

The President has made his position on Iraq eminently clear. And in the coming months we shall see what we shall see.

Now, let us turn to North Korea. As you know, several weeks ago during official talks between the United States and North Korea, North Korean officials acknowledged that they have a program to enrich Uranium for nuclear weapons. This constitutes a violation of the 1994 agreed framework, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, North Korea's International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement, and the joint North-South Declaration on the De-Nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In the course of this brazen admission the North Koreans declared that the agreed framework was nullified. And as Secretary Powell later said 'when we have an agreement between two parties and one says it's nullified then it looks like it's nullified to us.’

The fact that the North Koreans were seeking a production scale capability to produce weapons grade uranium is a cause of grave concern to us, to the States in the region, and to the world as a whole. The American Intelligence Community already assesses that North Korea has produced enough plutonium for at least one, and possibly two nuclear weapons.

In consultation with the other four nuclear powers, our allies in the region, and other interested States, we are now considering what our next steps will be. President Bush has made it very clear that the North Koreans must comply with their commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and eliminate its nuclear weapons program immediately, completely, in a verifiable manner. He has also stated that 'he wants to resolve this matter peacefully through the exertion of maximum diplomatic pressure on North Korea.'

We want to emphasize that this is a global problem, and not simply a regional one. The security of all nations, as well as the continued credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty hinge on the successful resolution of this problem.

North Korea poses other dangers. We have long been aware of North Korea's role as the world's number one exporter of missile technology and equipment. These sales are one of its major sources of hard currency, which in turn allow continued missile development and production. As the CIA has publicly stated 'North Korea has assumed the role as the missile and manufacturing technology source for many programs. North Korean willingness to sell complete systems and components has enabled other States to acquire much longer range capabilities.’ Meaning that the term 'access' is not simply a rhetorical term, but is one reflected in hard transactions.

With regard to chemical weapons there is little doubt that North Korea has an active program, despite efforts to get North Korea to become a party to the chemical weapons convention it has refused to do so. That's another State Department sentence 'they could become parties to the chemical weapons convention tomorrow.’ They obviously wouldn't comply with it, but it's something to said.

Now, in a recent report to Congress the U.S. Government declared that North Korea is capable of producing and delivering via missile, warheads, or other munitions a wide variety of chemical weapons. The news on the biological weapons front is equally disturbing. The U.S. Government believes that North Korea has one of the most mature, offensive bio weapons programs on earth.

North Korea to date is in stark violation of the Biological Weapons Convention. In the 1980s the North Korean military intensified this effort as instructed by then President Kim Il Sung who declared publicly that 'poison gas and bacteria can be used effectively in war.'

We believe that North Korea has a dedicated national level effort to achieve a BW capability, and that it has developed and produced, and may have weaponized BW agents in violation of the BWC.

Finally, North Korea has one of the world's largest armies. Nearly one million men under arms. This force has over 10,000 military [tubes] [ph], many of which can reach Seoul and surrounding areas south of the demilitarized zone. Such a force, far larger than needed for legitimate defense needs, is capable of inflicting massive damage. As would most likely be charged with deploying chemical and biological weapons during the course of its opening attack.

In addition to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, other rogue States that concern us include Libya and Syria. Libya continues to pursue an indigenous chemical warfare production capability, relying heavily on foreign suppliers for precursor chemicals, technical expertise, and other key chemical warfare related equipment. Moreover, we believe that Libya has an offensive biological weapons program in the research and development stage, and may currently capable of producing small quantities of biological agent. It continues efforts to obtain ballistic missile related equipment, materials, technology, and expertise from foreign sources. Further, we are persuaded that Libya is continuing its long-standing pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the suspension of U.N. sanctions against it has increased its access to nuclear related materials and equipment.

Syria through foreign assistance is seeking to expand its chemical weapons program which includes a large stockpile of nerve agent. We believe that it is developing biological weapons, and is able to produce at least a small amount of biological warfare agents. Syria is also pursuing assistance from North Korea and firms in Russia for its missile development programs. The country has become a major trans-shipment point for goods and technology going to Iraq. And as we have informed Congress, we are looking at Syria's nuclear programs with growing concern.

Among these regimes flow dangerous weapons and dangerous technology. States such as these rely heavily on front companies and illicit arms traders to seek-out arms, equipment, technology, and dual-use goods for the benefit of their WMD programs. Of growing concern is the cooperation among proliferators is increasing. Recipients have become suppliers, and this onward proliferation presents yet another difficult problem.

It is on these rogue regimes, in particular, that the United States and its partners and multi-lateral non-proliferation agreements must focus a watchful eye.

To this end we have placed much weight in our arms control policy on strict compliance with existing treaties and agreements. But in order to be effective and provide the assurances they purport to bring these treaties must be carefully and universally enforced among all signatories. The United States must do its utmost to be forthright in letting the public know when States violate their commitment not to acquire or transfer the tools and materials necessary for making weapons of mass destruction.

This has been our aim, in particular, with the Biological Weapons Convention. This international treaty, signed by more than 140 countries, prohibits the production, use and stockpiling of biological weapons. While the vast majority of the BWC’s parties have conscientiously met their commitments we are extremely concerned that some States are conducting offensive biological weapons programs, while publicly avowing compliance with the agreement.

To expose some of these violators to the international community a year ago I publicly named several States we know to be pursuing the production of biological warfare agents, including Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and Libya. Later in the year I named Cuba, which we believe has at least a limited developmental offensive biological warfare R&D effort, and which has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue States. Such States will not be given a pass on their violation simply because they are signatories to the treaty. We are also concerned about the activities of some States not party to the BWC, including Syria and Sudan. We believe it is critical to put such States on notice.

The United States last Fall proposed several important measures to combat the biological weapons threat which, of course, we have seen in the case of the Anthrax releases in our own country. In the past year great progress has been made to combat the threat posed by biological weapons. National and international efforts have made it more difficult for those pursuing biological weapons to obtain the necessary ingredients, and made it easier to detect and counter any attack.

As the President said 'almost every State that actively sponsors terror is known to be seeking weapons of mass destruction, and the missiles to deliver them at longer, and longer ranges. It is not simply coincidence that those States we know to be seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons are also the States designated as sponsors of global terrorists.'

In the past the proliferation and acquisition and weapons of mass destruction fell outside the definition of terrorism, but we are in a new era and we must be very clear. The United States believes that the threat of terrorism, the actions of State sponsors of terrorism, and the proliferation and potential use of weapons of mass destruction are inextricably linked.

President Bush said last month 'terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both, and the United States Military is capable of confronting both.’

America is determined to prevent the next wave of terror. This means directing firm, international condemnation towards States that shelter, and in some cases, directly sponsor terrorism within their borders. It means uncovering and ending their activities that violate their international obligations. And it means having a direct dialogue with the rest of the world about what is at stake, which is ultimately nothing less than our own survival.

Thank you very much.


DAVID HOROWITZ: We have a few minutes for questions, if you'd like to ask any. I can't see anyone, so maybe there aren't any questions.


MICHAEL: [inaudible - off mic.]

JOHN BOLTON: I think you at have to at least take it as a possibility. And I think what the concern that the FBI and others are reflecting is that the actual source of the Anthrax may have come from an American facility some years back, which is not to say necessarily that one can conclude that it was released by Americans. Although it's possible that that's an explanation, as well.

I think it's very disappointing to all of us that we haven't been able to figure-out or make more progress on this investigation, if for no other reason than the signal it sends to foreign sources especially, that might consider using Anthrax or some other biological agent, if the source of this particular, or these particular releases can go on this long you have to be concerned about what risks we are at. What our vulnerability is. I think it's been very disappointing.

QUESTION: Secretary Bolton, listening to what you had to say, is it correct that we suspect that Iraq has nuclear capability or is developing it? And we know that North Korea has nuclear capability, but we're going after Iraq because we think that if we went after North Korea it would provoke a larger conflict? Or what is the explanation of why we don't focus on North Korea, who has the nuclear weapons? Instead of Iraq, who we suspect may have them?

JOHN BOLTON: Well, I think that the shortest answer to that question is one at a time. The fact is that on the Korean Peninsula the presence of 37,000 American troops and a very strong South Korean Army has effectively deterred war for half a century. Whereas in the case of Iraq we've got in case after case examples of Suddam Hussein actually not only seeking weapons of mass destruction, but actually using them. And I think that the likelihood or the risk of that happening in the case of Iraq, view it as objectively as one can view very different situations. The risk in the case of Iraq is substantially greater.

But I think the course that we're pursuing with respect to the North Koreans is one that inevitably has to lead to them disarming or being disarmed of their nuclear weapons capability, just as ultimately, one way or another, Iraq will be disarmed, as well. Now, we've had other circumstances in the case of North Korea that have required us to pursue what I think the President has correctly determined to be a diplomatic strategy at the front-end. We've got a Presidential election coming up in South Korea next month. We've got in one of our closest allies, Japan, engaged in its own difficult negotiation with North Korea.

But as you can see from steps that we've taken even in the past, within the past week, suspending heavy fuel oil shipments, the inevitable cancellation of the Light Water Reactor Program prescribed under the agreed framework, and a number of other things, that we are in the process of containing and isolating North Korea. Now, how much farther we have to go depends in large part on the North Koreans. If they were to give-up their pursuit of nuclear weapons then that could lead to one result. If they don't then I think we've got another road that we're prepared to pursue.

But the case of Iraq, the real answer is that it poses the more imminent threat, not that there's a trivial or insignificant threat in the case of North Korea, it's just in terms of time Iraq is much more dangerous.


ROBERT: John, I want to thank you for your leadership in fighting against the U.N.'s effort to impose international gun control. You beat them back. Is this a permanent victory? Are they coming back again? What's the state of play of the effort by the U.N. to get involved in gun control?

JOHN BOLTON: I am sad to report there are no permanent American victories at the U.N. There's no doubt that the agenda of those who want, who find that in pursuing domestic American pass toward gun control find themselves frustrated by citizens who have an interest in protecting their liberties among other things. That many of these groups having tried at the Federal level and failed, having tried at the State and local level and failed, have discovered a new way to approach this problem, not dissimilar from other left wing interest groups in the environment, in the arms control area, and others.

To attempt, in effect, to go outside the American political system and impose their particular regulatory agenda on us from the outside. That's where the impetus for the U.N. Small Arms and Light Weapons Conference that took place last year came from. It's been a very effective strategy, at least it was during the prior administration for these groups. Again, not just in gun control, but if you look at the Kyoto protocol, a system of environmental regulation that could never have been successfully pushed through Congress, they could achieve through international negotiation.

So it’s because of the confluence of political forces that’s so favorable to them finding more congenial political allies in Europe and in the developing countries that you have to assume that they will continue to pursue this, especially after just this most recent case, last week’s elections here, the environment isn’t getting any better for them.

So, I would, I think that we’re all glad that the last year’s Small Arms and Light Weapons Conference came-out the way that it did, but that is far from the end of the issue. And if anything, I think, more effort needs to be devoted in the international arena because I think that’s where the other side will concentrate more of its resources.

[SIR JAY BOHN] [ph]: There has been accumulating a great deal of evidence that Saudi Arabia has been supporting efforts against the United States, particularly in the era of terrorism. If this is the case to what extent, and in addition to this there are arguments made that the State Department has turned somewhat of a blind eye towards those charges, if those are true to what extent are they influenced by our dependence on oil, and to what degree is the State Department reassessing its relationship with Saudi Arabia?

JOHN BOLTON: Well, you’ve raised a critically important question, which I am not going to answer directly. What I will say is that I think I’m going to answer this in the abstract in a sense. What you have institutionally in the foreign ministries is a term that is a phenomenon, we term ‘clientitis.’ That is to say an unwillingness or an inability to see problems in, reflected in the governments that you deal with.

I believe that one of the most compelling reasons why we need regime change in Iraq is because of the signal that that would send to other regimes in the region, that the persistent pursuit of policies that are opposed to American interests is not something that’s going to go unnoticed.

Now, I don’t, myself, have dreams of Jeffersonian democracy breaking out in the region. But I do have dreams of people waking up and saying ‘what do you mean they just removed Suddam Hussein?’ And for them to understand that there is a price to posing the kind of risks to our interests and to the interests of our friends and allies that a regime like Iraq has done over the years.

It cannot be ultimately that even balancing the complex interests that we have, and lets be blunt, in the oil and natural resources field, it cannot be that over a sustained period of time we can accept being challenged either publicly or privately in the way that the financing mechanisms for terrorist groups have operated over the past decade.

So the – as I say, I’m not going to answer this question directly, but the issue that you posed is not one that’s going to be [deductible] [ph] for a long period of time.

QUESTION: Secretary Bolton, I want to salute your work also here in Palm Beach, Florida, from a couple of years ago where I saw you.

But I have a question regarding the Busch Freedom Doctrine and the use of, in George Busch’s April 17th VMI Speech where he proposed a martial plan for Afghanistan and espoused property rights, rule of law, and other institutional guarantees of human hope, universal, that would [ebits] [ph] universally in the human heart. And then he also spoke twice, pointedly I think, in the September 12th U.N. speech about economic and political liberty. And he said ‘economic and political liberty’ twice.

How is the – how does the Busch Freedom Doctrine operationally help implement both, is it enlisted as a tool for both regime change and for shoring up Iraq, and Afghanistan, and other regimes as we, as they fall? Because all States sponsors of tyranny, of terrorism are also not only tyrannies but among the most economically unfree of the world’s nations.

JOHN BOLTON: I think that’s exactly right. And I think that’s one of the, one of history’s tests of the Busch Administration will be what our performance is in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq once the oppressive regimes are overthrown.

If you read the editorial pages of our major newspapers they are saying today, you see ultimately once again the Busch Administration has to adopt the policies of its wise predecessors and engage in what they love to call ‘nation building,’ which they are so unsuccessfully engaged in in the Balkans and other places.

I don’t think that’s what we’re trying to at all. In Afghanistan right now, and I don’t think that’s what we’re going to do, or that we should do, or that we have to do in Iraq. I think what we can do is try to provide a security environment within which these countries are going to have to make their own choices. The very process of nation-building, involving as it does international organizations and NGOs, whose main agenda is their own perpetuation and extension, are almost by definition antithetical to the establishment of free markets.

Now, I don’t think we can establish free markets by [Fiad] [ph] in Afghanistan or Iraq that are going to be sustained after our departure. But I think our version of nation building is to give to the people of the country who are ultimately going to have to live with the results of their choices the ability to make the choice of which kind of political and economic systems they’re going to pursue. Obviously, we hope it’s going to be democratic and market-oriented.

And I think in the case of both Afghanistan and Iraq there are signs that they are struggling in difficult circumstances to do that. But it would be almost contradictory to say that we are going to establish free market policies for these people. They’re going to have to do it themselves. They may choose the wrong way, and ultimately they will have to bear responsibility for it. But I don’t think there should be any misunderstanding of the depth of the President’s commitment to that approach.

DAVID HOROWITZ: We have time for one more.

QUESTION: Thank you. John, could you comment just briefly on a trend that we’ve seen? In recent years it seems to be accelerating, the linkages between narcotics organizations and terrorist organizations, especially in Columbia and elsewhere?

JOHN BOLTON: Well, I think this is something that we still understand imperfectly. But the obvious economic benefits that flow from the size of the narcotics trade and the world is something that is a continuing source of a finance for terrorists groups, and is not something that they can ignore. I think it’s a very substantial risk now.

For example, in the case of Afghanistan, where return to a poppy cultivation is – was growing even under the Taliban, and they will grow more extensively now, can provide a method of finance. Even as we close-down the international financial networks that terrorists have used, that this can come-back into play. Certainly in the case of the Latin American drug cartels, there is an enormous amount of money there that’s funding quasi-governmental institutions in Columbia, as you mentioned, and elsewhere.

I’m not sure how much we know about the extent of the connection. But any time there’s that much money involved you have to worry about where that money is being diverted to. So I think this is something that we all need to spend much more time on because of the risk of that much money being uncontrolled is just enormous.

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