August 30, 2002
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- The U.S. has launched a fierce defence of its record on the environment at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, amid continued criticism from other nations.
Delegates from European nations, developing countries and environmental groups have attacked President George W. Bush for failing to attend the 10-day conference and criticised the U.S. for its stance on the environment.
Washington is also under pressure over its rejection of binding targets in the fight to cut pollution and poverty.
But Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, leader of the U.S. delegation, told the conference: "No nation has made a greater contribution and a more concrete commitment to sustainable development."
She added that the U.S. annual $10 billion donation to developing countries made it the single largest donor of development aid -- with an additional $5 billion recently being announced by President Bush. U.S. says it is the largest importer of goods from developing countries, and American delegates have sharply criticised the U.N. forum for not pursuing what Washington calls "real action" in poor nations.
James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying much of the anti-U.S. sentiment "is on the fringe of debates." "The good of America's people is not being recognised," he added. But U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, said the United States had to face its "responsibilities."
The debate on business partnerships continued to rumble on at the conference. Briton David Jones, spokesman for the non-profit Business Partners for Development, said incentives were needed for private businesses to ease their risks when putting money into the poorest areas.
But Antonio Hill, a policy adviser for the international aid group Oxfam, said that although a place does exist for private business in certain projects, such as improving water supply, it does not work in all cases. "They are driven by profits, and the considerations they must make are not always compatible with a lot of kinds of investments that need to be made," she was quoted by AP as saying. Partnerships in water supply and sanitation dominated the World Summit on Sustainable Development talks on Thursday.
Experts said the key to finding quick solutions is to think small and simple. About 1.2 billion people lack clean drinking water and two billion are without sanitation -- needing an estimated $180 billion each year to sort out.
A protest march from the shanty townships near to the plush, heavily-guarded conference centres is planned for Saturday. U.S. officials laid out a series of partnerships with industry and private foundations in what they described as a "new approach to development" to address the developing world's most pressing problems, including energy, hunger, water, AIDS and forest management.
Sat Aug 24, 7:17 PM ET
By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer
Ten years ago, Earth Summit delegates celebrated in the streets of Rio de Janiero. But as leaders of more than 100 nations prepare to gather again more somberly this time, in Johannesburg delegates admit that little, if any, headway has been made to prevent global warming, species extinctions and other environmental problems.
For nearly two weeks, starting Monday, 65,000 delegates will convene in venues throughout sprawling Johannesburg. It's like the Olympics of world politics.
The mission of the World Summit for Sustainable Development has been stated many ways but those involved say it boils down to this: To save the planet from ecological devastation and rescue billions of people from wretched poverty. The meeting, organized by the United Nations, is nicknamed "Rio+10" because it marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark Earth Summit in the pulsing South American metropolis, which put environmental issues on the global political agenda for the first time.
Today, few of the Rio goals have been met. By many measures, Earth's condition has deteriorated. Global temperatures and sea levels creep upward as heat-trapping pollution accumulates in the atmosphere. Deforestation and species losses mount. And as the world's population gallops past six billion, problems of clean water, infectious disease, hunger and our appetite for limited natural resources worsen.
In Johannesburg, summit leaders have made the diplomats' job even harder by expanding the agenda to include issues of enormous human suffering. Add to it the growing resentment that the benefits of globalization continue to be concentrated in the hands of Western corporations and elude the outstretched grasp of the developing world.
On Saturday, international negotiators discussed how to overcome their differences on issues before the summit's official opening. Authorities also fired stun grenades at about 300 demonstrators who tried to break through a police cordon at a nearby university. One person was arrested and there were no immediate reports of injuries in the protest against globalization.
Greenpeace activists also scaled the wall of a building at a nuclear power plant to protest the use of nuclear energy in Africa.
What started in Rio as an exuberant political sprint into a greener, post-Cold War future has turned into a grueling marathon with an uncertain finish line.
"If we do nothing to change our current indiscriminate patterns of development, we will compromise the long-term security of the Earth and its people," says Nitin Desai, the summit's secretary-general. To many participants, Johannesburg represents perhaps the last good chance to protect the planet.
"Not everything was rosy at Rio," said Christopher Flavin, president of the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental advocacy group. "But there wasn't the sense that we have today. If we don't get something done and if we have a few more unfortunate developments, things around the world could be unraveling."
And the country that many delegates consider least likely to win a gold medal in Johannesburg? The United States.
At Rio, President George H.W. Bush ignited a diplomatic furor by rejecting accords to protect biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Little has changed since. The United States has angered both its European allies and developing nations by stifling many global environmental accords inspired by Rio, citing economic concerns. Since Rio, U.S. consumption of energy has jumped 21 percent and greenhouse gas emissions are up 13 percent, according to figures gathered by the United Nations and others.
In June, pre-summit negotiations held in the tropical paradise of Bali disintegrated into acrimony. The United States demanded that fiscal accountability and anti-corruption guarantees be attached to its foreign aid, while smaller countries demanded the United States share more technology and comply with international environmental restrictions.
Several delegates wore buttons and T-shirts sporting the undiplomatic quip: "What should we do with the United States?" To the delight of conservative political supporters at home, President George W. Bush is skipping the summit, deciding not to repeat his father's experience.
"Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, the Johannesburg Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental issues," said Fred L. Smith Jr., president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a letter to Bush cosigned by 30 other conservative activists. Smith's group is a nonprofit, Washington-based policy organization. "Your presence," the letter said, "would only help to publicize and make more credible their various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas."
U.S. offers of "concrete and practical" solutions will be negotiated by other administration officials, Bush said in a statement. Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Johannesburg on the summit's final days.
The United States is said to be preparing an aid package to promote clean water initiatives in several countries, as well as partnerships with business and non-governmental organizations. But the offers are unlikely to contain strict timetables or specific promises, observers said.
Delegates grumble about the United States' lack of engagement, especially when Bush is seeking international cooperation in the global war on terrorism. "We were quite despairing after the Bali meeting because governments weren't willing to make commitments necessary to make real progress," World Wildlife Fund vice president Brooks Yeager said. "This should be about delivering on the promises of Rio."
In exchange for foreign aid accountability, he said, the United States should follow the lead of other nations and make real strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and recycling. Such policies would pay geopolitical dividends beyond the environment, he said. "The efforts of United States to mobilize against terrorism would be helped immeasurably if we were part of a broad coalition to address sustainable development," Yeager said.
Summit participants say Johannesburg is further hampered by the combination of a crushing agenda and a looser diplomatic framework. Unlike their counterparts in Rio, delegates won't arrive with major treaties ready to sign and a global action plan virtually negotiated in advance.
Instead, organizers are seeking two levels of commitments from governments: modest consensus agreements known as Type One, akin to an agreement in principle; and more ambitious, but voluntary commitments known as Type Two.
On the summit's eve, even its organizers are beginning to reconsider the race they're running. The U.N. food agency now says the target to halve the number of the world's hungry won't be met by 2015.
"It does not imply a failure the target was very ambitious, and it can still be reached" but not until 2030, said Jelle Bruinsma, an economist who is one of the authors of the agency's study.
Nobody seems surprised. Since Rio, few of the first summit's grandest ideas translated into action ...
Julian Borger in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday August 16, 2002
One of the Republican party's most respected foreign policy gurus yesterday appealed for President Bush to halt his plans to invade Iraq, warning of "an Armageddon in the Middle East". The outspoken remarks from Brent Scowcroft, who advised a string of Republican presidents, including Mr Bush's father, represented an embarrassment for the administration on a day it was attempting to rally British public support for an eventual war.
The US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, yesterday spelled out what she called the "very powerful moral case" for toppling Saddam Hussein. "We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. She said the Iraqi leader was "an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbours and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, all of us".
But while Ms Rice was making the case for a pre-emptive strike, the rumble of anxiety in the US was growing louder. A string of leading Republicans have expressed unease at the administration's determination to take on President Saddam, but the most damning critique of Mr Bush's plans to date came yesterday from Mr Scowcroft.
The retired general, who also advised Presidents Nixon and Ford, predicted that an attack on Iraq could lead to catastrophe. "Israel would have to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when Saddam sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time, using weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking Israel to respond, perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing an Armageddon in the Middle East," Mr Scowcroft wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
The Israeli government has vowed it would not stand by in the face of attacks as it did in 1991, when Iraqi Scud missiles landed on Israeli cities. It claims it has Washington's backing for retaliation.
Mr Scowcroft is the elder statesman of the Republican foreign policy establishment, and his views are widely regarded as reflecting those of the first President Bush. The fierceness of his attack on current administration policy illustrates the gulf between the elder Bush and his son, who has surrounded himself with far more radical ideologues on domestic and foreign policy.
In yesterday's article, Mr Scowcroft argued that by alienating much of the Arab world, an assault on Baghdad, would halt much of the cooperation Washington is receiving in its current battle against the al-Qaida organisation. "An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardise, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken," Mr Scowcroft wrote.
Both the American and British governments are expected to time a public relations effort to rebuff the critics and build public support in the immediate run-up to an invasion.
Senior Whitehall figures say that crucial in that effort will be evidence that President Saddam is building up Iraq's chemical biological warfare capability and planning to develop nuclear weapons.
The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confirmed yesterday that the Pentagon was considering a change in the status of a navy pilot shot down over Iraq 11 years ago. He is currently classified as "missing in action". There have been reports that Lieutenant-Commander Michael Speicher was still being held by Iraq. If he was reclassified as a prisoner of war, it would represent an additional source of conflict between Washington and Baghdad.
By Ze'ev Schiff
Friday, August 16, 2002 Elul 8, 5762Israel Time: 00:35 (GMT+3)
If Iraq strikes at Israel with non-conventional weapons, causing massive casualties among the civilian population, Israel could respond with a nuclear retaliation that would eradicate Iraq as a country. This grave assessment, from American intelligence, was presented last week to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
During the 1991 Gulf War, then U.S. defense secretary Richard Cheney, now vice-president, told CNN that Israel could respond with nuclear weapons to an Iraqi strike that included the use of chemical weapons. This assessment has only been strengthened since then, because according to all the signs, Iraq now has biological weapons that could cause mass casualties.
According to one assessment, military-grade biological weapons can be almost as lethal as a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. intelligence assessments include an analysis of possible Israeli responses. The lowest probability is that Israel would respond initially with a conventional military retaliation if it is slightly harmed, and would add a warning that a non-conventional response was possible if the Iraqi attacks on the Israeli civilian population continued.
The possibility of Israel using nuclear weapons against Iraq appears in a document submitted by military expert Dr. Anthony Cordesman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Presumably, the document is based, in part, on official administration assessments.
In the worst case scenario, writes Cordesman, Israel could face an existential threat to important urban areas such as Tel Aviv or Haifa. Under such conditions, it would threaten nuclear retaliation against Iraqi cities and military forces to cease the [Iraqi] attack.
If the Iraqi attack were to continue, and there was a lethal biological strike on an Israeli city, Israel would certainly respond with nuclear strikes against Iraqi cities that were not yet in the hands of American forces, Cordesman says. Such an Israeli reaction could destroy Iraq as a state.
Based on this assessment and the possibility of an Israeli retaliation in the event of an Iraqi strike, it is presumed that the United States will, at the earliest stages, make a special effort to neutralize any possible use of Scud and El Hussein rockets that Iraq positions in its western regions, as it did in the Gulf War, for a more convenient launching site for attacks against Israel. During discussions in Washington, Israeli representatives asked the United States to take action against the missiles in western Iraq.
The Americans know that Iraq is not depending only on long-range missiles in its plans for using chemical or biological weapons against its enemies, including Israel. As part of its preparations, Iraq has also been working on developing pilotless planes. Unlike the usual development of drones used primarily for intelligence gathering purposes, the Iraqis are working on normal-sized planes loaded with chemical or biological weapons and intended to be flown by remote control. They are working on an Eastern European training plane and on a version of the MiG-21. Both planes have been tested.
From Roland Watson in Washington
August 07, 2002
THE US Congress has been warned that President Bushs proposed attack on Iraq could escalate into a nuclear conflict.
An assessment of Iraqs capabilities says that the US is unlikely to knock out many, if any, of President Saddam Husseins mobile missile-launchers in a first wave of airstrikes. It raises the possibility of Baghdad hitting an Israeli city with a missile carrying biological agents, saying that Saddam is likely to use chemical and biological weapons.
Israels likely reaction would be nuclear ground bursts against every Iraqi city not already occupied by US-led coalition forces. Senators were told that, unlike the 1991 Gulf War, when Washington urged Israel not to retaliate against Iraqi missile strikes, Israeli leaders have decided that their credibility would be hurt if they failed to react this time.
The assessment was written by Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon and State Department official now with the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. He was a witness before last weeks Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and chosen to open a national debate on the looming Iraqi conflict. He queried the ability of US forces to use pre-emptive airstrikes to cripple Iraqs mobile launchers, which would be used for chemical or biological weapons. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, has alluded to the problems of locating the launchers.
Referring to the Gulf War, Mr Cordesman said that, despite contrary claims, the US had not detected most Iraqi chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons and missile capabilities. US and British forces also had no meaningful success in finding Scud missile sites, nor were the airstrikes of Operation Desert Fox in 1998, after the departure of UN weapons inspectors, successful.
Its likely, therefore, that Iraq could succeed in launching some CBRN strikes against US coalition forces, targets in neighbouring states, and / or Israel.It could take days to characterise biological agents. Even US forces would only be able to firmly characterise dissemination by observing the lethal effects, he said.
The United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, rejected conditions set by Baghdad for new talks and told Iraq last night he was waiting for a formal invitation for UN weapons inspectors to return. Mr Annan said in a letter to Iraqs foreign minister that new talks must focus on practical arrangements for the resumption of inspections.
By Michael Evans, Defence Editor and Roland Watson
The London Times (Times Online)
July 11, 2002
SADDAM HUSSEIN has made important progress in developing weapons of mass destruction capable of killing millions of people, senior Iraqi defectors say. That suggests that the Iraqi leader is pressing ahead with all three elements of his secret weapons project: nuclear, chemical and biological.
The analysis is based on material gained from officials who worked on the programme and Intelligence on Iraqi agents trying to buy dual-use components.
The nuclear threat should not be exaggerated. Before the launch of the US-led offensive against Iraqi forces in Kuwait in 1991, Saddam was close to developing a bomb. But today, with most of the nuclear infrastructure destroyed, including uranium-enrichment plants, the Iraqi leader is a long way from achieving his ambition to become a nuclear weapons power in the region.
However, there have been sinister signs of clandestine procurement of systems vital for producing bomb-grade fissile material. It is believed that Iraq recently has acquired components for flow-forming machines, which are used in the uranium-enrichment process. However, without the fissile material removed by the International Atomic Energy Agency after the Gulf War Saddam poses no real nuclear threat for the moment.
The production of biological agents such as anthrax, botulinum toxin and ricin, can be carried out under cover of legitimate pharmaceutical plants and small laboratories which remained intact after the Gulf War.
Terence Taylor, a UN weapons inspector in Iraq for four years up to 1997, said he believed Saddams biological arsenal posed the greatest immediate threat. Since 1998, when the UN inspectors withdrew, Iraq has failed to account for 17 tons of growth media used for culturing anthrax and other biological agents.
"We dont know whats happened to it. Its expensive stuff and not the sort of stuff you would lose," said Mr Taylor, president of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. He said there were also 4,000 tons of chemicals which could be used in the manufacture of VX nerve gas with no satisfactory explanation, and thousands of tons of chemical weapons munitions.
There is also evidence of Iraq switching production back to biological agents. Saddam has rebuilt part of the al-Daura vaccine plant, which was destroyed by the UN weapons inspectors because it was directly used in the production of biological agents.
Intelligence experts agree it is likely that Saddam has the capability of producing militarily significant quantities of biological agents, and that he also retained a viable chemical weapons stockpile.
Key to Iraqs ability to launch weapons of mass destruction is the state of its ballistic missile programme. The ballistic missile facilities were virtually destroyed in the Gulf War and by UN inspectors.
But there is intelligence evidence that Iraq may be co-operating with Syria in trying to develop longer-range surface-to-surface missiles, based on the Russian Scud system. Several Iraqi officers known to be ballistic-missile experts have visited Damascus this year.
The Iraqi officers in Syria are believed to be training Syrian missile units in the art of launching weapons. In return, the fear is that Syria will provide parts for a new Iraqi extended-range missile.
Apart from defectors and the monitoring of Iraqs known smuggling routes for dual-use components, not even Americas sophisticated technical intelligence-gathering systems can uncover what Saddam is really up to.
July 5, 2002
The head of Israel's intelligence agency has stated in a speech to NATO that he believes World War III began on Sept. 11 when terrorists attacked the United States.
Efraim Halevy, chief of the Mossad, spoke at a meeting of the NATO Alliance Council in Brussels, Belgium, according to a translation of his speech posted on Gamla: News and Views from Israel. The preface of the speech indicates it was originally published in the Israeli daily Yidiot Aharonot on June 28. Present at the meeting were ambassadors from the 19 member nations of NATO.
Halevy began his talk by highlighting the continuing terrorist attacks in Israel.
"Since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada against Israel, more than 60 suicide attacks have been executed against us. It is no longer a marginal phenomenon, which characterizes a small and extremist sector of the society. It is a phenomenon that is developing at a quick pace into a half legitimate form of warfare. " Halevy said.
He then presented his characterization of Sept. 11.
"The 11th of September was, if you will, an official and biting declaration of World War III. Also in the '90s there were terror attacks the explosions that were executed simultaneously at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, the attack on the American naval vessel Cole in Yemen. There were terror acts in New York that brought about arrests and convictions, but only on Sept. 11, was the die cast, and the true character of the new war was revealed to the eyes of all."
Coninued Halevy, "This is a war in which the sides are not only countries but also terrorist groups that operate almost with impunity. It is a war which does not have clear fighting lines; it is a war that is being waged against free societies, with weapons and strategies we have not known until now. It is a war which does not adhere to the rules of war, or the international legal norms."
Halevy criticized Syria's acceptance by the world community, as evidenced by its presence on the United Nations Security Council, even as it plays host to Palestinian terror groups.
"It is possible for Syria, which gives protection to these groups, to receive a seat as a respected member of the Security Council, and its representative even serves this month as chairman of the Council," Halevy told the ambassadors, "and this at the very time when the Palestinian Islamic Jihad sent a suicide attacker to blow up a bus in the north of Israel, and caused the killing of around 20 people. The leader of this organization, Ramadan Shalach, publicly took responsibility for this attack from where he sits in his Damascus headquarters, when he was interviewed by the Al Jazeera television network, which millions watch all over the Arab and Muslim world."
While Halevy pointed out that some Muslims seek peace, he highlighted the growing acceptance and influence of those bent on violence and destruction.
"Violent Radical Islam has been until now a minority stream in the Islamic religion, and most Muslims were and one hopes they will continue to be in the future aspiring to peace and moderate in their approach to life. But if the violent minority groups are not restrained, and in many cases, completely eliminated then the statement 'nothing succeeds like success' is liable to symbolize the terrible threat to the basic fabric of the member countries of NATO in which Muslim communities are growing and developing, in numbers and in influence, while they preserve their unique identity and culture."
Halevy then turned his attention to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, decrying him for glorifying suicide attacks and his mention of Muhammad's Hudaybiyah Treaty with the Quraish tribe in the seventh century.
"He reminded his supporters that this treaty was signed between the prophet Muhammad and the tribe of Quraish," Halevy explained. "It was signed at a time when Muhammad was in an inferior position in the battle field, and the understanding prevailed that this was the only way to prevent a loss, until the conditions of war changed, and Muhammad would have the upper hand. When this happened, Muhammad had the obligation to break the treaty and attack his enemy. And so Muhammad acted. On May 15 this year Arafat announced to his people that this was his strategy to sign an agreement with the purpose of breaking it, at the moment when circumstances allowed it."
Finishing his address with comments about weapons of mass destruction, Halevy singled out Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lybia as serious threats.
"To sum up," Halevy said, "preservation of the free societies and the lives of their citizens must be recognized as a basic right of every man and woman on the earth. We must shorten the days of criminal countries and entities, that act not only as lords of their destinies, but as lords of your destinies and ours."
TEL AVIV, Israel, June 28 (UPI) -- Iran was developing a nuclear capability as well as missiles that could reach Europe and eventually the United States, the head of Israel's intelligence agency reportedly told NATO's council.
Israel also has "clear indications" that Iraq resumed efforts to produce fissile materials, Mossad leader Ephraim Halevy said while addressing a closed session of the council Wednesday in Brussels. The Israeli Yediot Aharonot newspaper published the full text of the speech Friday.
Halevy reportedly said several countries that have been traditional foes of Israel were developing advanced weapons systems, including Iran which in recent years has invested heavily in developing ballistic missiles based on North Korean expertise.
He noted that the Iranians successfully tested the Shehab-3, which has a range of 800 miles and announced they were trying to extend its range, payload and destructive capability. Iran is also involved in research and development of longer-range missiles that could reach Europe and the United States and does so under cover of launching civilian satellites, he added.
The Mossad chief maintained Iran was "intensively" developing military nuclear capabilities, but would not reveal there intelligence Israel has obtained.
In recent years Israel repeatedly tried to dissuade Russia from helping Iran. The United States has raised the matter in Moscow.
Halevy said the Mossad believes Iran is developing a chemical infrastructure for civilian use, but one that could quickly be transformed into producing large quantities of deadly VX gas. The Iranians are also investing in biological warfare research and development, he reported.
Of the eve of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had been a few months away from producing fissile material, he continued. There are "clear indications" Iraq resumed its nuclear efforts after the United Nations ceased inspections in 1998, Halevy said. The Mossad has, "a reason to believe" Iraq managed to preserve some of its chemical and biological warfare capabilities. It has "partial evidence" that the Iraqis resumed production of VX and possibly Anthrax germs, he added.
In the past years Syria bought and then produced North Korean Scud B, C and D missiles. Most of the warheads are conventional but the Syrians have chemical and biological capabilities as well, Halevy said.
The Syrians have produced large quantities of Sarin nerve gas, and in recent years are working hard to produce VX. The gas could be dropped in bombs from planes, Scud missiles, and 220 and 302mm mortars whose range varies from 27 to 62 miles, he reported.
Libya is developing missiles with a range of more than 625 miles, which could affect Europe and Israel, he noted.
Friday, 29 March, 2002, 11:35 GMT
A suicide bomb attack has been reported in a Jewish neighbourhood of Jerusalem, as Israeli forces launch an attack on Yasser Arafat's compound in the West Bank. Many people were injured and there are unconfirmed reports of at least one death in the explosion at a mall in Kiryat Yovel in south-eastern part of the city. Emergency services have rushed to the scene.
In the West Bank, tanks and army bulldozers have smashed through the perimeter of the compound in Ramallah, where the Palestinian leader has been confined for months. One of Mr Arafat's advisers inside the compound said gun battles were going on between Israeli troops and Mr Arafat's bodyguards, some of whom had been wounded.
Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that Mr Arafat was an "enemy" and that Israel would do everything it could to "isolate" him.
The offensive is the first military response to two Palestinian attacks in two days - a suicide bombing in Netanya on Wednesday that left 20 dead, and an attack on a Jewish settlement on Thursday, in which four Israelis died. At least four Palestinians are reported to have been killed in Ramallah, but rescue teams say they cannot get to the central square, where there are believed to be other casualties.
Israel Radio said an army officer had been killed in the fighting. After an all-night cabinet meeting, Mr Sharon said Israeli efforts to make peace had been met with "terror, terror and more terror". He also said widespread action would be taken to isolate Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority wherever it was believed to be fostering a "terrorist infrastructure".
The Palestinian leader responded defiantly to the attack on his headquarters, saying the Palestinians would never give up their fight for an independent state.
In a telephone interview with Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television, he said no one in the Arab world would "surrender or bow" to Israel. He also said he hoped the Israeli operation would make him into a martyr. "They either want to kill me, or capture me, or expel me," he said. "I hope I will be a martyr in the Holy Land. I have chosen this path and if I fall, one day a Palestinian child will raise the Palestinian flag above our mosques and churches."
But the Israeli Defence Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said that there was no plan to harm Mr Arafat
Earlier on Friday, two Israelis were stabbed to death by Palestinian militants in the Jewish settlement of Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources said the attack was followed by heavy shooting, and Israeli tanks had been deployed.
Correspondents say the atmosphere in Gaza is tense, with many people staying off the streets. The Gaza Strip itself remains cut in three places after Israeli patrols closed the major roads of the territory.
Mr Arafat said he had informed the US envoy, Anthony Zinni, on Thursday that he was ready to start implementing an American ceasefire plan. He said the Palestinians were committed to the plan drawn up by former US Senator George Mitchell, and the Tenet plan, drafted by the CIA chief George Tenet. The Israelis said there was nothing new in Mr Arafat's remarks.
March 27, 2002 Posted: 4:53 PM EST (2153 GMT)
NETANYA, Israel (CNN) -- A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people and injured at least 130 on Wednesday in the crowded dining room of a popular seaside hotel during the traditional Seder that marks the start of the Jewish religious holiday of Passover. At least 26 of the injured were described as "severely wounded." A senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ra'anan Gissin, termed the attack a "Passover massacre" and said the government would use all "necessary measures" to stop further terrorist attacks.
The Palestinian group Hamas, which has a military wing that has carried out attacks on Israeli civilians and military targets during the 18-month intifada, claimed responsibility for the attack at the Park Hotel near the West Bank. Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
A spokesman for Hamas, Usama Hamdan, told CNN in a televised interview after the attack: "We are not talking now about eliminating Israel, we are talking about what Israel is doing. They are killing our people, they are destroying our homes, they are attacking us with all they have, the American weapons they have. "So this is a trial (attempt) to send a letter, to send a message, to all the world that we are trying to fight for our own freedom against a terrorist government in Israel led by (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon," Hamdan said of the attack.
But Netanya Mayor Mirian Seilberg said, "This is a murderer who killed here children, who killed women, all people. It is not a resistance." The Israeli government would not continue to tolerate the wave of suicide attacks, Gissin warned. He said Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat must bring militants under control before peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis could resume. "There ain't going to be any negotiations under fire," Gissin said. "The continuing use of terrorism is going to destroy Palestinian society, not just hurt us."
Speaking at his home in Gaza City, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, said "this attack and other attacks are a message to the Arab summit to confirm that the Palestinian people continue to struggle for the land and to defend themselves no matter what measures the enemy takes." Wednesday's attack took place on the first day of the Arab League summit in Beirut, where the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis was the primary focus.
A Hamas spokesman in Beirut, Usama Handan, told CNN the attack was meant to send a "message for all the world that we are trying to fight for our own freedom against a terrorist government in Israel led by Sharon." "The Palestinians will continue their struggle against Israel until they reach their goals, and the main goal for the Palestinians now [is] to repatriate their lands, to return back to their lands, to have their own state." He also said Israelis "have to expect those attacks from everywhere, from every Palestinian group."
U.S. President Bush immediately condemned the attack. "This callous, cold-blooded killing must stop. I call upon (Palestinian leader Yasser) .. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to do everything in their power to stop the terrorist killing, because there are people in the Middle East who would rather kill than have peace." Bush was speaking at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
The bomber was from the West Bank town of Tulkarem, Palestinian sources said.
The suicide bomber slipped past an armed guard at an entrance to the hotel, Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said. The hotel was full of Israelis who had gathered to mark Passover, a seven-day commemoration of the exodus of the ancient Israelites from Egypt. Jews gather each evening after sunset for a ritual meal called a Seder.
Kleiman said police were searching nearby hotels for accomplices who may have helped the bomber. "Nothing can prevent -- 100 percent -- a suicide bomber who's intent on blowing himself up and killing people," he said. Israeli police had been on high alert because of the Passover holiday. Israeli television broadcast video showing a building with its walls blown out and stunned people being escorted from the scene by emergency workers. Victims were carried away on gurneys and police had barricaded the scene of the blast.
Netanya was the scene of an attack on March 9 when a suicide bomber killed two people, including a baby girl, and wounded at least 35 others. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military wing of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the March 9 attack and another the same day in Jerusalem.
"Every one of these bombings sets us back," said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell after Wednesday's bombing. He added that it also brings a new sense of "determination" to negotiate peace in the Middle East. The latest attack came amid intense international efforts to lay the groundwork for a cease-fire. U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni was in Israel Wednesday pushing for the implementation of a plan calling for a cease-fire and a resumption of negotiations, and Saudi Arabia officially unveiled a peace proposal at the Arab League summit in Beirut, Lebanon.
However, despite a call issued by Palestinian leaders last week for an end to terror attacks inside Israel, suicide bombings by Palestinian groups have continued. Earlier Wednesday, Israeli forces killed two armed Palestinians in Gaza after being attacked in two separate incidents during an overnight operation, the Israel Defense Forces said. The IDF said troops were responding to an alert in the area of Kibbutz Kissufim. Two Israeli soldiers were injured in one of the attacks, in which Palestinians threw a hand grenade and opened fire, the IDF said. Two international observers were killed and one was slightly wounded Tuesday when a Palestinian opened fire on their car in the West Bank, the Israeli army said.
March 25, 2002
By Brent Sadler
CNN Beirut Bureau Chief
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- It's an image reminiscent of the civil war years: anti-aircraft guns on Beirut's seafront, the famed Corniche. As Arab leaders assemble in the Lebanese capital, Beirut is seeing the heaviest military presence in more than a decade. In a nation once consumed by terror, the authorities say they're taking no chances, and they've spent months preparing for the Arab League conference.
The conference centre facade suggests that the one-time playground of the Middle East is regaining its lustre. Parts of Beirut are flashy -- not many fast-food outlets in the world provide valet parking, and downtown reconstruction boasts redevelopment on a grand scale. Pavement cafes are bustling as Gulf states invest heavily in a country they say is shaky in the economic present -- but shows promise in the future. The remodelling and reuniting of a city once blasted into a deserted ruin takes more than just money and manpower, however.
For 15 years, Lebanon tore itself apart on sectarian lines during its civil war as Muslims and Christians battled for dominance. When the guns fell silent some 11 years ago, Beirut began to rise from the ashes.
Political power shifted in favour of Muslims, but progress is now being hindered, says one former warlord, by old rivalries. "Don't forget we are in a state of war and no peace," says Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. "But it's very dynamic and challenging compared to the rest of the Arab world."
At sunset, sounds of religious coexistence echo across the city as church bells and Muslim calls to prayer compete for attention. "But there is definitely a poor atmosphere, a cultural atmosphere, a political atmosphere that's still dividing the two cities," says architect Assem Salem.
And along the old battlefront -- the "green line" dividing Christian east from Muslim west Beirut -- stands an enduring symbol of the war: a building riddled with bullet holes and shell-fire. It's been left untouched, say the distraught owners, because redevelopment plans were frozen by politically motivated red tape. "It's not only by building new buildings or renovating buildings that the results of the civil war are achieved or we can say that it's over," says owner Charles Fares. "No, the mentalities should change in this country too. It's a bad souvenir we should definitely erase from our minds."
By George Jones, Political Editor and Anton La Guardia
Thursday 21 March 2002
BRITAIN would be ready to make a nuclear strike against states such as Iraq if they used weapons of mass destruction against British forces, Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, told MPs yesterday. He issued his warning as officials in Washington and London privately predicted that military action to try to topple Saddam Hussein was likely to be launched at the end of the year.
Mr Hoon was briefing the Commons defence select committee on the threat posed by four countries Britain had identified as "states of concern": Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea.
He said that Saddam had already used chemical weapons against his own people. The possibility that rogue states would be prepared to use such weapons again, possibly sacrificing their own population, could not be ruled out.
He said that dictators such as Saddam "can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons. "What I cannot be absolutely confident about is whether that would be sufficient to deter them from using a weapon of mass destruction in the first place."
Mr Hoon's willingness to confirm readiness to use nuclear weapons in such circumstances was seen at Westminster as a clear sign that the Government is becoming more alarmed that Saddam is developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
A joint Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office paper to the committee said it was a "serious cause for concern" that states were developing a ballistic missile capability at the same time as they were seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Hoon said that Britain could come within range of missiles fired from the Middle East within the "next few years".
Although Mr Hoon later denied in the Commons that any decision had been taken on military action against Iraq, his comments about the nuclear deterrent will add to Labour MPs' concern that such preparations are being actively considered.
His forthrightness was unexpected, because many Labour MPs are opposed to retaining nuclear weapons. In the 1980s Labour was unilateralist and Tony Blair was briefly a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, although as party leader he has backed the nuclear deterrent.
Mr Hoon's comments follow similar noises from America. Two weeks ago a leaked Pentagon policy document laid out the possibility of a "devastating response" to the use of biological or chemical weapons against American troops.
The Prime Minister intends to use the large deployment of British fighting forces to Afghanistan as a political lever to push President Bush into seeking United Nations approval for any military action against Iraq.
He supports Mr Bush in his campaign to remove Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and topple Saddam, but wants to broaden the front. Downing Street hopes the deployment to Afghanistan of 1,700 British troops, led by 45 Commando the Royal Marines, a unit specialising in Arctic warfare, will strengthen his position when he meets Mr Bush at his Texas ranch after Easter.
"The speed and size of the deployment to Afghanistan is a cheque that Blair will cash in," a source said. "He will tell Bush that he needs to carry the international community with him."
The Foreign Office, in particular, is deeply worried about the impact that a war in Iraq would have on the Middle East. But it appears to have been overruled by Mr Blair. "The Prime Minister thinks Saddam poses a threat that has to be met with a strong response," a source said. "He is feeling gung-ho."
Whitehall officials said that America first made its request for commandos at the height of Operation Anaconda this month in a "panicky" response to the unexpectedly fierce resistance Taliban and al-Qa'eda fighters put up in the mountains south of Kabul. The United States suffered its biggest casualties of the war on the opening day of Anaconda, when eight Americans and at least three Afghan allies were killed.
This week America said Anaconda had been successful, but British officials privately spoke of "a near disaster" and said many guerrillas appeared to have slipped away despite American claims to have killed hundreds of the enemy.
Dick Cheney, the American vice-president, headed home yesterday after an 11-day tour of the Middle East in which he received little support for an attack on Iraq. Instead he was urged to do more to end the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.
As Iraq gloated about Mr Cheney's "bitter disappointment", the Turkish prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, said he felt greatly relieved that Washington was not planning imminent action against Iraq. "This does not mean an operation has been ruled out," he said. "But I do not think there could be military action in the coming few months."
March 13, 2002
The Middle East Newsline
The Bush administration has ordered contingency plans for a U.S. nuclear attack on Middle East states that are developing nonconventional weapons. The states that could come under attack from U.S. tactical nuclear weapons include Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria, a classified Defense Department report said. None of these states are believed to yet have nuclear weapons.
All have long-standing hostility towards the United States and its security partners, the report said. All sponsor or harbor terrorists, and have active WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and missile programs.
The Pentagon report, which has been confirmed by Bush administration officials and relayed to Congress, envisioned a U.S. nuclear attack on a range of Middle East rogue states. The scenarios include retaliation for a nonconventional attack on Israel, a chemical or biological weapons strike on U.S. troops or interests and the U.S. destruction of underground nonconventional facilities in the Middle East.
By PAUL RICHTER, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
March 9, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has directed the military to prepare contingency plans to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries and to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in certain battlefield situations, according to a classified Pentagon report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The secret report, which was provided to Congress on Jan. 8, says the Pentagon needs to be prepared to use nuclear weapons against China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. It says the weapons could be used in three types of situations: against targets able to withstand nonnuclear attack; in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; or "in the event of surprising military developments."
A partial copy of the report was obtained by defense analyst and Times contributor William Arkin. His column on the contents appears in Sunday's editions.
Officials have long acknowledged that they had detailed nuclear plans for an attack on Russia. However, this "Nuclear Posture Review" apparently marks the first time that an official list of potential target countries has come to light, analysts said. Some predicted the disclosure would set off strong reactions from governments of the target countries.
"This is dynamite," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear arms expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "I can imagine what these countries are going to be saying at the U.N." Arms control advocates said the report's directives on development of smaller nuclear weapons could signal that the Bush administration is more willing to overlook a long-standing taboo against the use of nuclear weapons except as a last resort. They warned that such moves could dangerously destabilize the world by encouraging other countries to believe that they, too, should develop weapons.
"They're trying desperately to find new uses for nuclear weapons, when their uses should be limited to deterrence," said John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World. "This is very, very dangerous talk . . . Dr. Strangelove is clearly still alive in the Pentagon."
But some conservative analysts insisted that the Pentagon must prepare for all possible contingencies, especially now, when dozens of countries, and some terrorist groups, are engaged in secret weapon development programs.
They argued that smaller weapons have an important deterrent role because many aggressors might not believe that the U.S. forces would use multi-kiloton weapons that would wreak devastation on surrounding territory and friendly populations.
"We need to have a credible deterrence against regimes involved in international terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction," said Jack Spencer, a defense analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington. He said the contents of the report did not surprise him and represent "the right way to develop a nuclear posture for a post-Cold War world."
A spokesman for the Pentagon, Richard McGraw, declined to comment because the document is classified.
Congress requested the reassessment of the U.S. nuclear posture in September 2000. The last such review was conducted in 1994 by the Clinton administration. The new report, signed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, is now being used by the U.S. Strategic Command to prepare a nuclear war plan.
Bush administration officials have publicly provided only sketchy details of the nuclear review. They have publicly emphasized the parts of the policy suggesting that the administration wants to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.
Since the Clinton administration's review is also classified, no specific contrast can be drawn. However, analysts portrayed this report as representing a break with earlier policy.
U.S. policymakers have generally indicated that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states unless they were allied with nuclear powers. They have left some ambiguity about whether the United States would use nuclear weapons in retaliation after strikes with chemical or nuclear weapons.
The report says the Pentagon should be prepared to use nuclear weapons in an Arab-Israeli conflict, in a war between China and Taiwan, or in an attack from North Korea on the south. They might also become necessary in an attack by Iraq on Israel or another neighbor, it said.
The report says Russia is no longer officially an "enemy." Yet it acknowledges that the huge Russian arsenal, which includes about 6,000 deployed warheads and perhaps 10,000 smaller "theater" nuclear weapons, remains of concern.
Pentagon officials have said publicly that they were studying the need to develop theater nuclear weapons, designed for use against specific targets on a battlefield, but had not committed themselves to that course.
Officials have often spoken of the advantages of using nuclear weapons to destroy the deep tunnel and cave complexes that many regimes have been building, especially since the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Nuclear weapons give off powerful shock waves that can crush structures deep in the Earth, they point out.
Officials argue that large nuclear arms have so many destructive side effects, from blast to heat and radiation, that they become "self-deterring." They contend the Pentagon needs "full spectrum deterrence"--that is, a full range of weapons that potential enemies believe might be used against them.
The Pentagon was actively involved in planning for use of tactical nuclear weapons as recently as the 1970s. But it has moved away from them in the last two decades.
Analysts said the report's reference to "surprising military developments" referred to the Pentagon's fears that a rogue regime or terrorist group might suddenly unleash a wholly unknown weapon that was difficult to counter with the conventional U.S. arsenal.
The administration has proposed cutting the offensive nuclear arsenal by about two-thirds, to between 1,700 and 2,200 missiles, within 10 years. Officials have also said they want to use precision guided conventional munitions in some missions that might have previously been accomplished with nuclear arms.
But critics said the report contradicts suggestions the Bush administration wants to cut the nuclear role.
"This clearly makes nuclear weapons a tool for fighting a war, rather than deterring them," said Cirincione.
Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 21:58 GMT
At least 10 people are reported dead and more than 40 injured in an explosion in a busy cafe in West Jerusalem. The blast was said to have occurred in the Moment cafe, a few hundred metres from the offices of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The BBC's James Reynolds, reporting from the scene, said he had seen people being stretchered away in ambulances.
Israeli media said the incident was a suspected suicide attack.
The cafe was severely damaged in the explosion, and police have blocked nearby streets to carry out rescue work. A witness told Israeli TV: "A man walked in and blew himself up. There are pieces of him all over. "The police are distancing people from the scene. It's the most horrible thing I've ever seen."
Dozens of Israelis have been killed by Palestinian suicide bombers in a year and a half of escalating violence. Palestinian militants have frequently targeted busy urban areas on Saturday evening, the end of the Jewish Sabbath. Our correspondent says Israel usually follows such attacks with military action against Palestinian targets.
Earlier, suspected Palestinian gunmen opened fire on passers-by in the northern Israeli town of Netanya on Saturday evening, killing one woman and wounding at least 35 people. Police killed three of the gunmen after the 15-minute attack during which they targeted cars and pedestrians in a hotel district but a fourth may have escaped.
A Palestinian group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, is reported to have said it carried out both attacks.The militant group Hamas has also claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem blast.
Israeli police said that reports of a blast in the coastal town of Ashdod, north of the Gaza Strip, had proved to be a false alarm.
Throughout the day, Israeli forces kept up attacks on Palestinian areas, launching helicopter raids and rounding up hundreds of Palestinian men. The attack in central Netanya came at about 2030 local time (1830 GMT), when the streets would have been crowded. The gunmen were dressed in Israeli police uniforms, eyewitnesses said. Several of the injured are in a serious condition, and Israeli radio says one woman has died of her injuries.
Israeli helicopter gunships fired rockets around Yasser Arafat's headquarters complex in Gaza City on Saturday, injuring about 20 people. It was the third missile strike on Gaza on Saturday. The Palestinian Authority complex in Nablus in the West Bank also came under attack. On the ground, troops moved into the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem and declared a curfew in their search for suspected militants. In other incidents in Gaza, two Palestinians were killed in a gun fight and a 15-year-old Palestinian girl appears to have been killed in crossfire.
After scores of deaths on Friday - the worst single day in the 17 months of the Palestinian uprising - new diplomatic moves are afoot. The Dutch Foreign Ministry said the US and the European Union would jointly appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday to halt all military action and enter negotiations. Mr Sharon has said he is willing to talk to the Palestinians about a ceasefire - apparently dropping his insistence on seven days of calm. A US peace envoy, Anthony Zinni, will shortly arrive in the region. Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo have called on the international community to intervene to halt the violence.
March 9, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration listed seven countries as possible targets for nuclear attacks in a military contingency plan, according to a report provided to Congress in January, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
The classified Pentagon information says nuclear weapons could be used against Libya, Syria, China, Russia, Iran, Iraq and North Korea in certain situations, the Times said.
Nuclear targeting discussions have been a part of U.S. military strategy for some time, but analysts told CNN that the Times list, if accurate, would be the first official one to come to light.
According to the Times report, nuclear weapons could be used against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack, in retaliation for attacks by nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, or "in the event of surprising military developments."
President Bush also has directed the military to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in some instances, the Times reports. Arms-control advocates told the Times that the development of smaller nuclear weapons may signal that the Bush administration is leaning toward overlooking a long-standing policy against the use of nuclear weapons except as a last resort.
Conservative observers have said they believe the U.S. military should be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary. Others believe any plans for possible nuclear attacks will have destabilizing global effects.
There was no response on the newspaper's report from the Pentagon or the White House, and no indication if the copy of the report obtained by the Times was a final or a draft version. The report, a congressionally mandated "nuclear posture review," is conducted every six years.
Pentagon officials briefing reporters on the review in January indicated a lessening reliance on the massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to attack. They said that findings called for increasing reliance on precision-guided weapons to deter attacks.
They said the classified nuclear posture review showed that because of improvements in precision-guided weaponry -- as demonstrated in the Afghan war -- the U.S. military can now rely more on powerful, highly accurate conventional bombs and missiles.
Increased missile threat predicted
Also in January, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report projecting that before 2015, the United States most likely would face intercontinental ballistic missile threats from North Korea, Iran and possibly Iraq, barring significant changes in their politics.
Bush named those three nations as an "axis of evil" during his State of the Union address earlier this year.
The unclassified report by the National Intelligence Council also predicted that Chinese ballistic missile forces would increase sevenfold by 2015, rising to between 75 and 100 warheads deployed.
Pentagon officials said the classified review showed that because of improvements in precision-guided weaponry -- as demonstrated in the Afghan war -- the U.S. military can now rely more on powerful, highly accurate conventional bombs and missiles to deter an enemy strike.
J.D. Crouch, assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy, said in January that the end of the Cold War and the improving relationship with Russia made the change in strategy possible, but that it was also guided by an analysis of potential future threats to national security.
Crouch said many of the nuclear warheads the administration planned to remove from operational deployment would not be destroyed, but would be kept in an "active stockpile," which some future president could redeploy in the event of a major nuclear threat to this country. President Bush has said he wants to reduce the U.S. arsenal of deployed nuclear weapons from more than 6,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200.
March 2, 2002 Posted: 5:37 PM
EST (2237 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A Palestinian suicide bomber killed nine other people, including an 18-month-old girl, in central Jerusalem Saturday evening, according to Israeli police and emergency workers. At least 57 others were wounded. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack. It identified the bomber as a 20-year-old Palestinian from the Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem.
The terror attack occurred in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood as people were returning to the streets at the end of the Jewish Sabbath. Police initially reported it was a car bombing because the bomb exploded near a car and set it ablaze. Four of the wounded were in critical condition, hospital sources and ambulance services said. The bombing took place in an alley near a major thoroughfare, next to a synagogue. The area has been the scene of similar attacks in the past year.
Palestinians have been outraged over an Israeli army operation that started Thursday in the West Bank refugee camps of Jenin and Balata, the first such actions in the past year and a half.
Israeli forces said their goal was to stop terrorists and dismantle terrorist infrastructure. The Israeli army said Saturday it had pulled out of Jenin and positioned its troops on the outskirts of town. Palestinian security sources said Israeli tanks were at the entrance to the camp.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, the fighting in Balata has left 25 Palestinians dead. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed. Hamas said Saturday that Israeli forces shot and killed a member of the group's militant wing as he was planting explosives near the soldiers in northern Gaza late Friday.
The Israeli army said its forces shot two Palestinians and killed one of them after they approached the soldiers Friday night near Beit Hanoun. The other Palestinian was wounded and taken from the area by a Palestinian ambulance. Hamas did not say if the wounded man also was a member of its militant wing. He was injured about 400 yards from the other man.
The violence comes on the heels of a Saudi Arabian peace proposal that has rekindled hope for a possible resumption of peace talks. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arrived Saturday in Washington, where he was expected to meet with President Bush about the proposal.
It calls for recognition of Israel and full normalization of ties with the Arab world in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, back to the borders in place before the 1967 Six-Day War.
"This has nothing to do with warfare, this has nothing to do with national liberation, this has to do with the murder of innocent Jews coming back from their evening prayers," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "The state of Israel knows how to defend the people of Israel, and will do so."
Wednesday February 27 6:27 PM ET
By F.N. D'ALESSIO, Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP) - The hands of the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic gauge of the threat of nuclear annihilation, were moved for the first time in nearly four years Wednesday because of the Sept. 11 attacks, increasing tension between India and Pakistan and other threats.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which keeps the clock, set the hands at 11:53, two minutes ahead of the time it has had since 1998.
Stephen Schwartz, publisher of the Bulletin, said the board originally defined ``midnight'' as nuclear war. In recent years, however, it has been redefined as the use of nuclear weapons anywhere on earth, he said.
It was the 17th time the clock has been reset since it debuted in 1947 at the same position it was set to Wednesday.
George A. Lopez, the publication's chairman of the board, said it has never been moved in response to a single event.
The Sept. 11 attacks combined with evidence that terrorists were attempting to obtain the materials for a crude nuclear weapon should have served as a wake-up call to the world. He said the world has focused on short-term security rather than solving long-term problems.
``The international community simply hit the snooze button rather than raising the general alarm,'' Lopez said.
He said such factors as the concern about the security of nuclear weapons materials stockpiled around the world and the crisis between nuclear powers India and Pakistan also figured into the decision.
The board started meeting in November, Bulletin spokesman Steve Koppes said, but did not reach a decision until recently ``because of the uncertain nature of what is going on in the world.''
The clock is a 11/2-foot-square wooden mock-up in the magazine's office at the University of Chicago. It was started two years after the bulletin began as a newsletter among scientists of the Manhattan Project - the top-secret U.S. effort during World War II to develop an atomic bomb.
It came closest to midnight - just two minutes away - in 1953, after the United States successfully tested the hydrogen bomb. It has been as far away as 17 minutes, set there in 1991 in a wave of post- Cold-War optimism.
February 22, 2002
By Nicholas Kralev
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Bush administration is no longer standing by a 24-year-old U.S. pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, a senior administration official said yesterday. Washington is "not looking for occasions to use" its nuclear arsenal, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said in an interview. But "we would do whatever is necessary to defend America's innocent civilian population," he said.
In case of an attack on the United States, "we would have to do what is appropriate under the circumstances, and the classic formulation of that is, we are not ruling anything in and we are not ruling anything out," Mr. Bolton said.
"We are just not into theoretical assertions that other administrations have made," he said in reference to a 1978 commitment by the Carter administration not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states unless they attack the United States in alliance with nuclear-armed countries.
On June 12 that year, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance made the following statement on behalf of President Carter, which became known as "negative security assurances": "The United States will not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or any comparable internationally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear explosive devices, except in the case of an attack on the United States, its territories or armed forces, or its allies, by such a state allied to a nuclear-weapon state, or associated with a nuclear-weapon state in carrying out or sustaining the attack."
In 1995, Warren Christopher, the first secretary of state in the Clinton administration, reaffirmed Washington's commitment. Along with the pledges of the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, it became part of a resolution, which the council adopted April 11, 1995.
But Mr. Bolton said such promises reflect "an unrealistic view of the international situation." "The idea that fine theories of deterrence work against everybody, which is implicit in the negative security assurances, has just been disproven by September 11," he said. "What we are attempting to do is create a situation where nobody uses weapons of mass destruction of any kind."
Mr. Bolton spoke a day after returning from Moscow, where he led the second round of arms-control negotiations that are expected to produce an agreement on nuclear cuts in time for President Bush's visit to Russia in May. The undersecretary said the "negative security assurances" never "came up" in the discussions with the Russians. Washington has never had a no-first-use nuclear policy but Moscow did until the mid-1990s.
Mr. Bolton's remarks displeased some arms-control analysts yesterday, who said that such significant U.S. government statements as the "negative security assurances" should not be repudiated. "These assurances are important in order to maintain the integrity and credibility of the nonproliferation regime. Repudiation can have a negative effect on international security," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. The nonprofit organization's publication, Arms Control Today, discussed the issue in an interview with Mr. Bolton earlier this month.
Although Washington's official position on using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states has remained unchanged until now, "both Democratic and Republican administrations have maintained ambiguity to maximize the credibility of the U.S. nuclear force," Mr. Kimball said.
Only a year after the Clinton administration reaffirmed Mr. Carter's pledge, Defense Secretary William Perry said on April 26, 1996: "If some nation were to attack the United States with chemical weapons, they have to fear the consequences of a response from any weapon in our inventory. ... We could have a devastating response without use of nuclear weapons, but we would not forswear that possibility."
John Holum, Mr. Bolton's predecessor at the State Department under Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, said yesterday that the Bush administration's position to ignore the 1978 commitment would not affect the strategic balance of power but might send a wrong message overseas. "It doesn't make the use of weapons of mass destruction more or less likely, but it's reflective of the administration's negative view of international treaties," Mr. Holum said. He noted that there was an "extensive debate" in the Clinton administration on whether it's "responsible" to rely on nuclear weapons to combat potential biological and chemical attacks, but a decision was made to maintain "ambiguity."
Mr. Bolton said there has been "no formal review" of Mr. Vance's statement by the Bush administration, "nor are we going to undertake a review of every official statement made by secretaries of states in the past five administrations."
United Press International
Monday, Feb. 11, 2002
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi Deputy
President Taha Yassin Ramadan called on Iran Monday to join with
his country to confront their "joint enemy" -- the
Iraq and Iran, who were at war with each other from 1980-88, seem to be improving relations after U.S. President George W. Bush accused them, along with North Korea, of being an "axis of evil." "What we are hearing from the Iranian leadership and its evaluation of the U.S. administration, which it calls the Great Satan, solidarity and joint action will have a larger role at least within the framework of confronting a joint enemy (United States)," Ramadan told United Press International. He said Bush's statement "requires that both countries look with all seriousness into developing their capabilities to confront the common enemy."
Ramadan said Iraq was fully ready to confront any military strike that could be launched by the United States. "Our leader, command, people and nation will face any unjust aggression with all faith and capability and the defeat will be the aggressors," he said, dismissing Washington's pretexts to justify its expected attack on Iraq. He added that, "Iraq is as far away from any links to terrorism as U.S. officials."
Ramadan said the United States knows Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction and "has destroyed all of them and there are documents proving that."
Asked about improved ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Ramadan said he preferred not to make hasty comments but as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said, "We are giving priority to the inter-Arab relations in all fields, especially economy, without one single exception -- including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia." He said attempts to get Iraq and Kuwait, which was invaded by Iraq in a move that set off the Gulf War, closer were continuing "and we believe it's not impossible to achieve this."
On a possible conflict between Iraq and the United Nations when the 11th phase of the oil-for-food program ends in May, he said: "We have a memorandum of understanding that we are applying in line with what we have agreed with the U.N. secretary general. We will not approve any change or addition to this memo in the future and Iraq will refuse anything that would harm its security and stability."
BAGHDAD, Feb. 11 (Kyodo) - President Saddam Hussein said Monday Iraq will stand firmly by Iran against ''any aggression,'' affirming an affinity with an erstwhile enemy with which it fought an eight-year war in the 1980s.
''We say it loud and clear: we are against aggression on Iran for many reasons and we are committed to our stand,'' Saddam told a cabinet meeting, according to the official Iraqi News Agency.
Saddam made what diplomatic observers believe to be the first sympathetic gesture toward Iran since the 1980-1998 Iran-Iraq war, which claimed the lives of over a million people on both sides.
Ties between the two Islamic neighbors -- branded by U.S. President George W. Bush as part of an ''axis of evil'' -- remained strained ever since the 1980s war, but lately the two countries have been engaged in a slow and steady rapprochement.
''Iran is a neighborly country, and whatever affects it in terms of instability, aggression or harm would have inevitable repercussions on us. Because of the deep historical reasons as well, we are against any aggression on Iran,'' Saddam was quoted as saying.
INA said Saddam sent a congratulatory message to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on the 23rd anniversary of the Iranian revolution that brought the Islamic clergy to power in Iran.
Saddam said he wishes the Iranian people ''progress and prosperity and the ties between our two countries continuous development and growth.''
MSNBC NEWS SERVICES
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 Despite a lack of support for U.S. military action against Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday stressed that the Bush administration was serious about removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power. Powell said Wednesday that President Bush is considering a full range of options to effect a regime change in Baghdad, but conceded that the United States may have to act alone.
IN HIS STATE of the Union address, Bush characterized Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea as part of an axis of evil among other things, involved in developing weapons of mass destruction. The comments prompted sharp denials from the three countries. The Bush administration is determined to force Saddam to readmit U.N. weapons inspectors who have been kept out since 1998, and it accuses him of seeking to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Powell said Iraqs refusal to admit the inspectors prompted Bush to consider the most serious set of options that one might imagine.
Powells comments on Wednesday to the House International Relations Committee fueled the perception that Iraq could become the next target in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Most Arab governments and some U.S. allies in Europe have cautioned Bush against a military assault on Iraq. They were nearly unanimous in supporting the anti-terrorism campaign against the Taliban and the al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan as a response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Arab leaders say Saddam has given the United States no similar provocation. Nonetheless, We still believe Saddam Hussein should move on, Powell said. The people of Iraq deserve better leadership.
U.S. MAY GO IT ALONE
The White House may act unilaterally, Powell suggested: Regime change is something the United States might have to do alone, Powell said. How to do it? I would not like to go into the details of the options. In the past, Powell has suggested diplomatic, political and economic measures could be used to uproot terrorists and their government supporters. But at the hearing, he did not suggest these alternatives to the use of force. Bush is leaving no stone unturned as to what he might do if Saddam does not reverse course, Powell said. The president is examining a full range of options, the secretary said. He declined to say whether Bush was considering a military assault on Iraq, or additional economic and diplomatic pressures.
ASSESSING IRAQS NUCLEAR KNOW-HOW
Iraq has remained bent on developing nuclear weapons, Powell said, adding that U.S. intelligence had concluded Iraq was a year or more away from its goal. But Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman of California, questioning Powell during a hearing on the annual foreign affairs budget that included a wide-ranging debate on foreign policy, made clear he doubted the diplomatic option would work.
How certain can we be that unless Saddam surprises us and allows the most incredibly intrusive inspection program imaginable, the American military will be deployed against him? Sherman asked. How certain can we that the Iraqi nuclear program will be stopped in the next year? Powell said there was no doubt that a nuclear program was being pursued by Iraq, but added, The best intelligence we have suggests that it isnt something they have the capability to come out with in the next year or so. Itll take quite a bit longer than that in the absence of external help.
Central Intelligence Agency George Tenet backed him up at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Let me be clear: Saddam remains a threat. He is determined to thwart U.N. sanctions, press ahead with weapons of mass destruction and resurrect the military force he had before the Gulf War of 1991, he said. Today, he maintains his vise grip on the levers of power through a pervasive intelligence and security apparatus, and even his reduced military force which is less than half its pre-war size remains capable of defeating more poorly armed internal opposition groups and threatening Iraqs neighbors.
Various options apart from the military one are available to the administration, which had an official policy of regime change in Baghdad even before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States put countries that it calls state sponsors of terrorism more firmly at the top of Bushs potential target list. Powell dismissed an Iraqi offer to hold talks with the United Nations, an overture conveyed through the Arab League and accepted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Powell said Iraq had to accept the return of accept U.N. inspectors, and that there was nothing to discuss otherwise. By contrast, Powell said the Bush administration was open to reasonable conversation with Iran.
Powell said the United States had a long-standing list of grievances with Iran, including its support for terrorism and trying to send weapons to the Palestinians. Irans latest provocation, he said, was meddling in Afghanistan and unsettling the fragile interim government in Kabul. Get out of the axis of evil column and make a choice that we think your people want you to make and not the choice your nonelected government has been making in recent years, he said.
Sun Feb 3, 7:35 AM ET
By Anton Ferreira and Sayed Salahuddin
WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - The United States has signaled it will take pre-emptive action in the next phase of its war on terror, ratcheting up the rhetoric that has set off alarm bells in Iraq and Iran.
In Afghanistan, interim leader Hamid Karzai Sunday scrambled to put a stop to bloody clashes between tribal rivals that have thrown the authority of his fledgling, U.N.-backed government into question.
Russia's defense minister accused his Western allies of double standards for failing to condemn Moscow's Chechen enemies as "terrorists" with the same vigor as they have pursued Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on the United States in which some 3,100 people were killed.
The fate of the Saudi-born militant is a mystery.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, speaking at a security conference in Munich, elaborated on a theme set by President Bush in recent days when he called Iran, Iraq and North Korea the "axis of evil." "The best defense is a good offence... Our approach has to aim at prevention and not merely punishment," said Wolfowitz, a hawk in the Bush administration. "We are at war."
Iraqi newspapers condemned "the dwarf Bush" as savage and aggressive and Iranian parliamentarians called him a threat to world peace and security. In Afghanistan, where the United States launched its war on terrorism after the September attacks on New York and Washington, a team of peacemakers appointed by Karzai arrived in the eastern town of Gardez to try to settle a conflict between his nominated governor and tribal rivals after dozens of fighters were killed.
In another eruption of violence as old rivals jockey for position in post-Taliban Afghanistan, about 40 men were killed in clashes in several parts of the northern province of Balkh, political sources in the area said.
SETBACK FOR KARZAI
The clashes are seen as a setback for Karzai as he attempts to stamp his government's authority on a country long riven by tribal and ethnic hostility and battered by more than two decades of war -- including the U.S.-led campaign to crush the Taliban and the al Qaeda members they sheltered.
But more of his loyalists might soon be taken to a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. military said it had finished construction of a temporary prison and can now more than double its population of Taliban and al Qaeda captives. The camp's population has stood at 158 since January 21, when the last of six groups of prisoners were flown from Afghanistan to the chain-link prison known as "Camp X-Ray." The United States suspended prisoner flights after that.
BUSH POINTS FINGER
In recent weeks Bush has switched his focus from finding bin Laden to preventing countries such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea from acquiring nuclear, chemical or germ weapons. In the biggest U.S. military buildup in two decades, Bush will press Congress Monday to raise defense spending by $120 billion over the next five years to $451 billion, senior U.S. officials said.
Wolfowitz said the United States had made no decisions about specific targets, "but the president has made clear where the problems are." "What happened on September 11, as terrible as it was, is but a pale shadow of what will happen if terrorists use weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Iranian parliamentarians, in a rare show of unity, lashed out at Bush for his "axis of evil" comments and accused him of being under the influence of Israel.
Baghdad-based newspapers said the hands of the Bush administration were stained with blood.
U.N. inspectors sent to Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to monitor the destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction left in December 1998 and have not been allowed to return.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned that disagreement over who should be called a terrorist could undermine the U.S.-led coalition in which Russia has joined its old Cold War adversaries. "What is our greatest concern today is the existence till the present time of double political standards with regard to separatism, religious extremism and fanaticism," Ivanov told the Munich conference, whose audience included Wolfowitz and other Western ministers.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, dismissed U.S. criticism that it was not doing enough to combat Islamic militancy, saying it could not detain people without proof and it had no evidence of Muslim terror groups at work in the country.
Washington's envoy to Singapore Franklin Lavin called on Jakarta Saturday to do more to track down groups accused by Malaysia and Singapore of directing suspected militants detained by the two countries.
The fate of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped in Pakistan on January 23 while covering the war on terrorism, remained a mystery after a flurry of messages purported to be from his kidnappers, one of which said he had been killed. But Pakistani police have dismissed some of the messages as hoaxes and the Journal said Saturday it believed Pearl, 38, was still alive and called on his abductors to free him.
Thu Jan 31, 2:53 PM ET
By Patricia Wilson
ATLANTA (Reuters) - President Bush stepped up his rhetoric against Iraq, Iran and North Korea on Thursday and told them to "get their house in order" or face the consequences.
Brushing off a measure of international unease and angry denials from the three countries that they were seeking weapons of mass destruction to threaten the United States, Bush followed up on a harsh condemnation of what he termed an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union Speech on Tuesday. In that speech he accused Iran, Iraq and North Korea of seeking weapons of mass destruction to attack or blackmail the United States.
The confrontational tone of Bush's message prompted unease among some of Washington's allies, including Britain. Politicians from Prime Minister Tony Blair's ruling Labour Party said on Thursday the tough language sat uneasily alongside Britain's cautious rapprochement with Tehran and Pyonyang. But Bush, without explicitly mentioning the three countries, kept up his drumbeat of warnings on Thursday in a speech to supporters at an Atlanta hotel.
"If you are one of these nations that developed weapons of mass destruction and you're likely to team up with a terrorist group or are now sponsoring terror, and you don't hold the values that we hold dear ... then you too are on our watch list." he told supporters at an Atlanta hotel. "People say, 'well what does that mean?' It means they better get their house in order is what it means," Bush said. "It means they better respect the rule of law. It means they better not try to terrorize America and our friends and allies or the justice of this nation will be served on them as well."
The White House said on Wednesday Bush did not intend to signal imminent military action against Iran, Iraq and North Korea when he singled them out in his Tuesday address.
But Bush's unusually harsh rhetoric on Thursday left little doubt that he wanted to put those three countries and any others that might threaten the United States on notice.
"My hope of course is that nations make the right choice," Bush said in Atlanta as he wrapped up a two-day, post-State of the Union tour of the South. "Many nations are realizing (that) when we say you're either with us or against us we mean it," Bush said.
"There's no middle ground when it comes to freedom and terror," Bush said. "And so my hope is that those nations that we put on notice and other nations around the world will make the right choice. "But they should not make any mistake about it. We will defend our national security. The security of the United States of America is my most important job, and I take it seriously and I will follow through," Bush said to rising cheers.
Bush came to Atlanta from Daytona Beach, Florida, where he urged Americans to seize the moment presented by Sept. 11 and change the country's "feel good" culture. "Our culture has said, 'If it feels good, do it,"' he said in a speech at an emergency operations center. "Our dream, or my dream for the country is that we usher in a culture that says 'Each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life."'
Bush's reference to a "feel good" culture referred to contentions that Americans have become too materialistic and excessively worried about themselves. It might also be taken as a slap at his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, whose eight years in the White House were marred by ethical lapses and sexual scandals.
Bush was on a two-day tour of three southern states aimed at winning support for his call for 200,000 new volunteers for community service and for every American to give two years -- or 4,000 hours -- to civic duty. Bush first made the appeal in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. The effort marked a departure from the president's early reluctance to ask Americans to sacrifice for the war on terrorism launched after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
In Daytona Beach, Bush made a pitch for the Senior Corps program that encourages people older than 55 to volunteer, saying they might have retired "but their brains haven't retired, their experience hasn't retired."
January 30, 2002
LONDON (Reuters) - Iran, Iraq and North Korea on Wednesday rejected an accusation by President Bush that they form an "axis of evil" developing weapons of mass destruction to threaten America and the world...
In Baghdad, a senior Iraqi parliamentarian said Bush was laying the groundwork for another U.S. assault on Iraq, whose troops were driven from Kuwait in 1991 by a coalition led by his father, former president George Bush.
"Little Bush's accusation against Iraq is baseless," Salim al-Qubaisi, head of the Iraqi parliament's foreign and Arab relations committee, told Reuters. "The American administration led by Bush has been threatening Iraq from time to time to prepare world public opinion for a new aggression against Iraq," said Qubaisi, who is also a senior official of the ruling Baath Party. "But such threats do not scare us, as the Iraqi people are well prepared to repel any aggression or foolishness by the American-Zionist administration," he added.
Bush has warned President Saddam Hussein he will face consequences unless he lets U.N. inspectors resume their work of monitoring the scrapping of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "Iraq has said clearly that it no longer possesses any weapons of mass destruction and no longer has the ability to develop them," Qubaisi said...
Wednesday January 30, 11:43 AM
President George W. Bush singled out Iran, Iraq and North Korea as "an axis of evil," bluntly warning the three nations that they could soon become targets in the US-led war on terrorism. Delivering his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Bush put the three so-called rogue states on notice that the United States is prepared to act, alone if it has to, against them should they threaten their people, their neighbors or others.
In addition, the president said the United States could and would bear the immense cost of a military campaign against any one the nations, maintaining that the price of doing nothing to counter such threats "would be catastrophic."
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world," Bush said in the speech which appeared to anticipate an extension of the anti-terror campaign beyond Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger," he said. "They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. "They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.
"All nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security," he said. "We will be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons," he said, laying down a direct challenge.
Bush said that while Iran, Iraq and North Korea might not have been particularly active since the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington which sparked the US war on terrorism, he was not fooled by them. "We know their true nature," he said.
Bush accused Stalinist North Korea of arming itself with missiles and weapons of mass destruction "while starving its citizens."
"Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom," he said, in an apparent reference to Iran's alleged involvement in a foiled Palestinian arms smuggling operation.
But Bush saved his harshest comments for Iraq -- frequently mentioned as a possible next target in the anti-terror campaign. "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror," he said.
"The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade," Bush said, demanding that Saddam Hussein allow UN weapons inspectors back into his country. "This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. "This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world."
Bush left his warning to the three countries vague without mentioning any specific actions that could be taken against them, but he hinted that he would move to use the full force of American military might if he had to.
He told Congress that the war in Afghanistan was costing more than one billion dollars a month to fight, but that it was worth it. "It costs a lot to fight this war ... and we must be prepared for future operations," Bush said.
"Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them. We need to replace aging aircraft and make our military more agile to put our troops anywhere in the world quickly and safely."