Bush, Putin Announce Anti-Terror Program

The Associated Press
Saturday, July 15, 2006; 11:22 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, making a united stand against terrorism, announced a new program on Saturday to detect and track terrorists trying to get their hands on nuclear and radioactive materials.

"It reaffirms the shared desire of Russia and the United States to counter this dangerous threat and opens new horizons for our joint efforts," Putin said at a news conference held as the Group of Eight summit got under way.

"We hope that this initiative will draw the attention of other participants in the G-8 and will deliver concrete results."

The new program, known as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, calls on states to improve accounting, control and physical protection of nuclear material and radioactive substances as well as the security of nuclear facilities.

It builds on an existing "Proliferation Security Initiative," a U.S.-led group of dozens of nations working together to help seize illicit weapons as they are transported around the world.

"Nation states face the threat of terrorism, and we want to work together to deal with this threat," Bush said.

Separately, Bush and Putin adopted a joint initiative on the creation of international centers for uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

The United States and Russia have invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to serve as an observer of the program, which seeks to bolster efforts to detect and suppress illicit trafficking in nuclear, biological and chemical materials. Participating nations also will be bound to respond together to mitigate the consequences of acts of nuclear terrorism.

"We do know that al-Qaida but also other terrorists groups have expressed the intent to acquire nuclear materials or other weapons of mass destruction capabilities, and we have no doubt that they would be willing to use these weapons, really as weapons of choice, to kill as many civilians, innocent civilians, as they can," Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph said.

"If I were a terrorist, I would think that my task would be much more difficult in terms of acquiring and using a nuclear weapon or a dirty (radioactive) bomb."

© 2006 The Associated Press