Kennedy Denounces

Bush's Nuclear Policy

President Bush has turned back years of U.S. efforts to stem the spread of nuclear weapons and has made the world a more dangerous place, in the view of one of the Senate's leading liberals.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) called the past four years of nuclear policy under Bush "a constant flirtation with nuclear disaster" that has rejected a "half-century of success" in nuclear deterrence and steps toward disarmament.

In a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Kennedy accused Bush of "encouraging new arms races, neglecting arms control and ignoring the truly threatening nuclear weapons developments in North Korea and Iran and the loose materials that could be readily available to terrorists."

Kennedy said the administration's focus on Iraq and its unwillingness to work with other countries "has been a serious setback for our nonproliferation policy, and may very well have made al Qaeda terrorists even more determined to find a way to make a nuclear attack on America."

The administration did little to stop Pakistani scientists from selling nuclear secrets, Kennedy said, sending the message that "if you're a friend, you will not be punished for trading in nuclear arms."

For the Record

* The Senate backed the Bush administration's ban on media coverage of the flag-draped caskets of soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base, despite complaints that the policy masks the rising death toll in Iraq. The 54 to 39 vote was on an amendment to a bill authorizing $422 billion for defense and $25 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan.

* House Republicans may use the defense bill to raise the government's $7.4 trillion borrowing limit. When the House debates the defense spending measure today, it is likely to add a provision saying the federal credit rating should be protected. That could be amended later to raise the borrowing limit, House Republican aides said.

* Legislation heading for the president's signature would crack down on property owners who make repeated flood damage claims that exceed the value of the property. The bill, targeting a fraction of the 4.5 million policyholders in the National Flood Insurance Program, would force repeat claimants to accept flood mitigation efforts, move or pay much higher premiums.

-- From News Services