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FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Push anti-nuke program, but expect nuclear arms

There is nothing wrong with Condoleezza Rice pushing international nuclear nonproliferation programs, so long as she does not give her own rhetoric too much credence.

The secretary of state promoted the success of the Proliferation Security Initiative on Tuesday, four days after multinational negotiators failed to reach a consensus in their review of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Their inability to reach a consensus is alarming given the pressing issues before them. North Korea claims to have nuclear weapons, and most experts believe that claim. Moreover, North Korea has missiles that could carry the warheads to the continental United States.

If Iran does not already have nuclear weapons, it is trying hard to build them.

Indeed, Ms. Rice's speech caused more fear than optimism. She said the nonproliferation program had helped the United States intercept missile and nuclear technology destined for Iran and North Korea. That tidbit is less a cause for celebration than a cause for terror. Which shipments got through?

Common sense tells us that if those two countries have nuclear weapons, their enemies — Japan, North Korea, United Arab Emirates and others — are scrambling to get some of their own.

Without giving details, Ms. Rice said the two-year-old program had a total of 11 "successful efforts." If each success involved intercepting nuclear-weapon components, what we see is a thriving black market in weapons of mass destruction.

We support Ms. Rice's efforts to continue the program because 11 interceptions are better than none.

We hope, however, that Ms. Rice is under no illusions. If nuclear missiles are aimed at our country, illusions are deadly.

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