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Undersecretary of state concerned about atomic terrorism Copyright © 2001 AP Online
Special Report: America Responds By BARRY SCHWEID, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (October 31, 2001 12:12 p.m. EST) - A senior State Department official on Wednesday said he was convinced that had the Sept. 11 terrorists possessed nuclear weapons, they would have used them.
All of lower Manhattan could have been devastated, with far more damage than the deadly toll in the hijacking attacks, John R. Bolton said.
The undersecretary of state for arms control and international security said the threat underscored a need to deter the spread of nuclear technology and a need for an American defense against missile attack.
But, Bolton said, "it's hard to see how people with that belief system could be deterred."
Describing himself as deeply concerned, Bolton said the pursuit of ways to avert terrorists' use of nuclear or other devastating weapons was "a national priority."
"Had these people had ballistic missile technology and nuclear weapons there isn't the slightest doubt they would have used it," he said.
President Bush will try again next month to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut off the spread of sophisticated technology and conventional weapons to Iran when they meet next month in Washington and at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bolton said.
"It would go a long way to improve the strategic structure if Russia's behavior was more like ours," he said.
Senior Israeli officials raised their concerns about Iran in talks last week at the White House and State Department, he said.
The issue is likely to be on the agenda for talks Secretary of State Colin Powell will hold in Washington on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
Bolton said in a breakfast meeting with military and diplomatic reporters that the anthrax breakout has already put the United States under terrorist attack with a weapon of mass destruction. Bolton said he could not shed any light on the source of the anthrax.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 31, 2001
"Had these people had ballistic missile technology and nuclear weapons there isn't the slightest doubt they would have used it," he said. "
Such statements are so self-serving as to be astonishing.
Lest we forget, the _only_ country that has ever used nuclear weapons in combat is the U.S.A. We used them because we felt they served our country's best interests, and we used them without concern for their impact on Japanese civilians.
Ours is also the country which manufactures ammunition out of nuclear waste and uses it in combat, having left radioactive debris all over battlefields in Iraq and the Balkans.
Our media and politicians are the ones talking about using tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan.
And _we_ act horrified at the prospect that "terrorists" will use such weapons against us.
-- neil (email@example.com), October 31, 2001.