Rice: US trying to stop spread of WMDs

US secretary of state makes comment in response to question about Syria building nuclear reactor.

September 13, 2007 10:00
2 minute read.
Rice: US trying to stop spread of WMDs

rivc 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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The United States is worried about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and is working to prevent such proliferation from occurring, US Foreign Secretary Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday. "It is our duty to take a stance on countries, and prevent the most dangerous people in the world from acquiring the most dangerous weapons in the world, and that is what we are doing everyday," Rice said during an interview on FOX News. Her comment was in response to a question about new evidence suggesting that Syria is building a nuclear reactor. While at no time during the interview did she mention Syria specifically, she repeated that the United States and its allies are constantly working on ways to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. "We are working to stop this sort of activity," the foreign secretary said. "This is high on the president's agenda." Rice will visit the Middle East next week to begin laying the groundwork in preparation of the upcoming Middle East summit. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea might be cooperating with the Syrians on some sort of nuclear facility in their country. The report was based on new intelligence the United States has gathered over the past six months, the bulk allegedly from Israel, which includes dramatic satellite imagery that has led some US officials to believe the facility could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons. The new information, particularly images received in the past 30 days, has been restricted to just a few senior officials under the instructions of national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, leaving many in the intelligence community unaware of it or uncertain of its significance, sources told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity. Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal on Thursday was quoted by the London-based Asharq Alawsat denying the claims, calling them "a distraction." A White House spokesman and the Israeli Embassy declined to comment Wednesday after several days of inquiries. A Syrian Embassy spokesman told the Washington Post he could not immediately provide a statement. The New York Times first reported on the intelligence linking North Korea and Syria. Since the alleged Israeli attack in Syria occurred, the Israeli government has refused to divulge any details, but a former Israeli official said he had been told that it was an attack against a facility capable of making unconventional weapons. Others have speculated that Israel was testing Syria's air defenses in preparation for a raid on Iran or that Israel was targeting weapons destined for Hizbullah in Lebanon. Meanwhile, visiting US, Chinese and Russian experts were set to continue their tour of North Korea's main nuclear complex Thursday, after US officials said the communist nation had cooperated with their requests. The US officials were in Pyongyang to determine how to disable the Yongbyon facility so it cannot produce more bombs, part of an agreement reached between American and North Korean envoys earlier this month. The American delegation was to return to the capital, Pyongyang, for discussions with North Korean officials, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington. The leader of the delegation, the State Department's top Korea expert, Sung Kim, told officials in Washington they "saw everything they had asked to see," McCormack said.

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