Bush says bin Laden no threat / Options open against rogue states including nuclear weapons.
2002-03-14 04:00:00 PST Washington
-- President Bush declared Osama bin Laden all but vanquished
yesterday, saying the al Qaeda leader -- dead or alive -- no longer
poses a serious threat to America.
"We haven't heard from him in a long time," Bush told reporters at the White House. "I truly am not that concerned about him."
a hastily called news conference that was dominated by questions about
war and terror, Bush also refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons
against nations like Libya and Syria if it would destroy their ability
to produce weapons of mass destruction.
got all options on the table," Bush said when asked about last week's
disclosure that the Pentagon is pursuing a more aggressive nuclear
strategy that could target rogue nations that do not themselves possess
"We want to make it very clear to nations that
you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass
destruction against us or our allies or friends," he said.
view the Pentagon policy as a departure from a decades-old Cold War
strategy of stockpiling nuclear weapons to deter a nuclear attack from
other nuclear powers such as the Soviet Union.
"The reason we have
a nuclear arsenal that I hope is modern, upgraded and can work is to
deter any attack on America," Bush said, insisting that he is merely
continuing a policy established under previous presidents.
same time, Bush said he is "committed to reducing the amount of nuclear
weaponry and reducing the number of nuclear warheads" and hopes to sign
such an agreement when he visits Russia in May.
comments on bin Laden stand in stark contrast to his declaration in the
first days after the Sept. 11 that he wanted the al Qaeda leader "dead
BIN LADEN 'MARGINALIZED'
said the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan has effectively
"marginalized" bin Laden and "destroyed" his terrorist network.
was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was
concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and
calling the shots for the Taliban," Bush said. But now, "we shoved him
out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his al Qaeda
Asked whether the United States, with military
advisers being dispatched throughout the world, might get caught in a
quagmire reminiscent of Vietnam, Bush said he learned lessons from that
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