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Special Report

European Cooperation

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Feb. 25, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BUSH: We agree to accelerate our work to protect nu clear weapons and material both in our two nations and around the world. And I want to thank you for that.

PRESIDENT PUTIN (through translator): We should put an end to the proliferation of missile and missile technology. The proliferation of such weapons is not in the interest of specific countries or the international community in general.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: Presidents Bush and Putin speaking at a news conference on Thursday.

Aside from mending fences and winning more support from the Europeans, the President Bush had another agenda in mind on his trip, to broaden efforts to keep weapons and weapons technology out of the hands of terrorists and unfriendly nations. It’s a critical task in the age of terrorism, and one on which he seems to have gained some ground.

Joe Cirincione, director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Nonproliferation Project is here, and joins me now to talk about this.

Joe, thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.

JOE CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: My pleasure, Jim.

ANGLE: And we’ll get to some of the details in a moment. But obviously there was a whole list of things the president was trying to do here regarding the export of weapons. How important were those efforts this week? And how much progress did he make?

CIRINCIONE: The president made a great deal of progress. Pretty much across the waterfront of issues: Iran, securing loose nukes in the former Soviet Union, even North Korea made progress, and that wasn’t even on his particular agenda. He’s getting rave reviews for the performance that he put in. And much to everyone’s delight, Republicans and Democrats, he significantly moved the ball down the court.

ANGLE: OK. Let’s talk first about shoulder-fired missiles, what are also known as "Man Pads." This is a concern, obviously because, as you can see here, it’s something that can be handled by a single individual. In this case, a terrorist, which is exactly the fear. How many of these things are there? And now, why are they called Man Pads?

CIRINCIONE: Of course, they’re man portable anti-aircraft systems, and there are tens of thousands of these things that the U.S. made, the Soviets made. We call ours The Stinger. We gave them to the Mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the Afghan War, for example.

We really don’t know where many of these are. The concern is that some group might use these to try to shoot down civilian airliners. In fact, there was an attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner just two years ago.

ANGLE: And what did the U.S. and Russia agreed to do to try to halt the trade of these things?

CIRINCIONE: Well, in this case it’s more intent and expressed desire. This is a very tough mission. But they agreed to coordinate efforts to try and track down all the weapons that they’ve produced and to recall them. Almost like gun buy-backs. Go into the countries where they know these things have proliferated and try and round them up and get them back.

ANGLE: Now, with the dissolution of the old Soviet Union, you had lots of nuclear materials around, because obviously, the U.S. and the Soviet Union jurors were in a nuclear arms race for many years. One of the problems you alluded to a moment ago is called loose nukes. What are we talking about?

CIRINCIONE: Well, this is the stockpile of weapons that were built up both in the U.S. and the Soviet Union. We are now coming down to half the amount than they were just 15 years ago. But a lot of the weapons have been put into storage. And the material to make more weapons is held in a very insecure condition.

So we’re really in a race to get that material, to secure it in the former Soviet Union, Russian, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, places like that before terrorists can get their hands on it. If they can get that highly enriched uranium, they can probably build a nuclear bomb.

ANGLE: Now, the worry is that security in some of these places may not be what it should be for nuclear materials.

CIRINCIONE: In the last 10 years, we have government programs in place to do this. In the last 10 years, we’ve secured about half of it. That’s the good and the bad news. Half of it has not been secured. The most significant thing that happened at yesterday’s press conference was the commitment to finish the job in the next four years. To set 2008 as a deadline for securing that material.

ANGLE: Now, one of the other big issues between the U.S. and Russian, and this has been an issue for quite sometime, going back several years, is the Russian’s sale of nuclear reactors to Iran. Now, I don’t think a lot of people understand this. It’s not the sale of the reactors that people are concerned about. It’s the fuel that is used in them. Would you explain that?

CIRINCIONE: That’s exactly right. The nuclear reactor is not really the problem. As long as it’s operating, you can’t really use that for creating a bomb. But it’s what goes into the reactor, highly enriched uranium. Those are the fuel rods. And then what comes out. When those fuel rods come out, and you can cut them up reprocess them and extract plutonium.

So you don’t mind the country having a reactor, but you don’t want them having the fuel capability. So what the president agreed with Mr. Putin was that Russia — didn’t quite agree, but they got close to agreeing that Russia could sell reactors to Iran, but not the fuel services. And that Russia would supply the fuel for the reactor and then take it back.

We’re getting close to a key element of an agreement that could help resolve the Iran crisis.

ANGLE: So we’re that close.

CIRINCIONE: We’re close with the Russian side. In order to solve Iran, you’ve got to have close coordination between the Europeans, the Russians and the U.S. We started to see that coordination developing just in this trip in the last few days.

ANGLE: Now, the Russians are set to sign an agreement with Iran tomorrow on some of the details of this. What is it — and they talk about some safeguards. What is it, beyond what you just explained, about taking the enriched fuel away?

CIRINCIONE: Well, they agreed that they would not help Iran. This is what the U.S.-Russian agreement. They would not help Iran develop that fuel enrichment, the ability to enrich uranium for fuel rods, because the same technology can be used to enrich uranium for a bomb. So the Russians will not do that.

Instead, they will supply the fuel, guarantee to supply that fuel to the Iranians and guarantee that they will take it back. So the Iranians will never have the ability to use that fuel for weapons.

ANGLE: All right. In about five or 10 seconds, what happened on North Korea this week?

CIRINCIONE: North Korea, we see North Korea edging back to the table. China is starting to play a very constructive role. U.S. diplomacy is starting to show some results.

ANGLE: Joe Cirincione, thanks very much.

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