Nuclear Black Market Crackdown

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", Feb. 11, that has been edited for clarity.

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PRESIDENT BUSH: Every lead, we will find the middlemen, the suppliers and the buyers. Our message to proliferators must be consistent and it must be clear. We will find you and we're not going to rest until you are stopped.



BRIT HUME, HOST: That a bit of President Bush's address that Jim Angle reported on earlier today, on the question of the spread of weapons of mass destruction (search), and his desire that international efforts to stop that spread be greatly bolstered.

Joining me now to discuss this further is the person who advises the president on such things, National Security Adviser Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Dr. Rice, welcome.


HUME: I must say the president's remarks today, describing this nuclear supermarket -- black supermarket really, in weapons of mass destruction and the ingredients for making them, sounded pretty ominous. And it leads to this question. Is it not possibly already too late on this?

RICE: Well, we certainly are in a situation in which we're learning that a lot has already happened. But I don't think it is too late. And the president doesn't believe that it is too late, if the world really now mobilizes to deal with this threat.

I agree, Brit. I thought that the description of the Khan network, this kind of nuclear underworld, black marketers, entrepreneurs in the world's most deadly technologies and weapons, is a really, pretty frightening specter. But the good news is that through good work of the intelligence services of the United States and Great Britain, and now Pakistan's attention to this problem, we have a chance with many states to really unravel this network, to learn its secrets, to know where its tentacles were. And perhaps to get some clues to what else is going on in other parts of the world as well.

HUME: Now, the A. Q. Khan (search) network, you described, that is nuclear stuff.

RICE: That's right.

HUME: Is there a, in your view, has there been a comparable spread, a comparable black market in the ingredients for chemical and biological weapons?

RICE: Well, of course, we don't know what we don't know. And chemical and biological weapons very often rely on dual use technologies, and are very difficult to discover.

But of course, the intelligence challenge is in all of those areas: nuclear, chemical, biological to really do the hard work of understanding what secretive regimes might be doing. To understand what the entrepreneurs might be doing on the black market, it's going to require a real, large-scale intelligence effort, and law enforcement effort.

One of the things that the president called for today is that cooperating nations, coalition of the willing, begin to cooperate on the law enforcement side in the way we are cooperating on the intelligence side.

We have a very active program of interdiction of potentially, dangerous shipments at sea. It's time also to have a very active law enforcement program so that we can bring all of this together and stop this deadly trade.

HUME: On the nuclear materials, Iran -- name Iran comes up. Libya, which shows a disposition to give it all up now, North Korea. Where else?

RICE: Well, we'll see. And I -- one of the very good things about uncovering this Khan network is that we're learning where the Khan network supplied, who their customers were, and their customers are now on notice.

And you mentioned Libya, Brit. And one of the important things about Libya is that because Colonel Gadhafi (search) made the right choice, and is now cooperatively disarming, we are learning a great deal about how this worked. We're learning about what other states might have been involved.

I think it's time for those who might be involved in this kind of activity to come clean because the world is now on the case, thanks to intelligence, thanks to a resolute policy. Thanks to the fact that frankly after the action in Iraq, the word of the United States and the word of the world is now good. We really have a chance to unravel these dangerous activities.

HUME: Do we have reason to believe that al Qaeda, or other similarly inclined terror organizations, may now possess some of these materials?

RICE: Well, of course, the nightmare, that the president described, is to see these terrorist networks that produced 9-11 and other catastrophic events, would somehow become armed with weapons of mass destruction.

We don't have any reason to believe that they have succeeded. But the fact of the matter is that we don't know. We know that they've actively tried to acquire weapons. And it's one reason that you don't leave intact the threat of regimes that might transfer those weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. It's just too dangerous.

HUME: You said that the word of the United States is now going to be seen as good. I assume you meant by that that we were credible when we said we would act against Iraq and the case of Afghanistan as well.

Others would argue that the findings of Dr. Kay (search) would suggest that we can't be believed when we say our intelligence is good and valid on this issue of weapons of mass destruction.

Let me ask you a question this way. Apart from what Dr. Kay said, what do you personally now believe, about Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction? Do you believe they weren't there? Do you believe that they were well hidden? What?

RICE: We clearly know that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That it had used the weapons of mass destruction. That it continued to pursue weapons of mass destruction. That it had the intent to continue to pursue and significant capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction.

The one piece, the one puzzle is what happened to stocks of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological weapons, that the entire world believed were there?

HUME: What do you now believe?

RICE: Well, there are a lot of theories about what might have happened to them. Are they still hidden? Possible. Were they transferred someplace? Possible. Were they destroyed? Possible.

But the president on the day that he decided -- the dates he decided to go to war was facing a threatening regime, a dangerous man in the world's most dangerous region.

And on the best intelligence at the time, intelligence of our intelligence service, that of many intelligence services around the world, and the U.N.'s own account that there were unaccounted for weapons of mass destruction, had no choice but to take care of this threat.

HUME: Dr. Rice, thank you very much for being with us.

RICE: Thank you, Brit. It's good to be with you.

HUME: Thank you.

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