Rogue states warned of U.S. nukes
Bush: 'Threat is real, stakes are high'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush reminded terrorists and rogue nations Wednesday that they will face massive retaliation -- possibly nuclear strikes -- if weapons of mass destruction are used against the United States or its allies.
"We will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes and terrorists to threaten our nation and our friends and allies with the world's most destructive weapons," he said in a statement.
The strategy, laid out in a six-page joint report from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, was released on Capitol Hill as part of a post-September 11 effort to deal with threats from rogue nations and terrorists.
While statement was a reminder of current U.S. policy, senior administration officials said it was the first time it had been formally laid out, issued at a time when the prospect of war with Iraq has prompted fears Saddam Hussein might unleash such weapons.
The United Nations is investigating Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities, a process that could trigger war if Iraq is found to have weapons of mass destruction.
"The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force -- including through resort to all of our options -- to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," the report said.
"In addition to our conventional and nuclear response and defense capabilities, our overall deterrent posture against WMD threats is reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, and interdiction, and domestic law enforcement capabilities," it continued.
The president said the strategy is vital to the nation's security.
"Some rogue states, including several that support terrorism, already possess WMD and are seeking even greater capabilities, as tools of coercion. For them, these are weapons of choice intended to deter us from responding to their aggression against our friends in vital regions of interest," Bush's statement said.
"For terrorists, WMD would provide the ability to kill large numbers of our people without warning. They would give them the power to murder without conscience on a scale to match their hatred for our country and our values," it continued.
Bush said the strategy was composed of three "pillars":
• Counter-proliferation, which includes defense and deterrence.
• Nonproliferation, which encourages arms control and reduction.
• Preparation, to respond effectively to any use of weapons of mass destruction against United States or its allies.
"The strategy I have issued today asks much of our federal government, our state and local institutions, and, indeed, every citizen," Bush's statement said.
"The threat is real and the stakes are high. Success against this threat is a requirement of history -- one that the United States will meet with confidence and determination."
The last such statement of U.S. policy was issued in 1993 but did not include an emphasis on nonproliferation or preparedness at home.
The document called for improved intelligence collection and analysis; extensive research and development to create protection against weapons of mass destruction; and targeted strategies for each regime posing a threat.
A senior administration official said a few months ago that key government agencies were assigned practical tasks to carry out some of the policies. But the official would not elaborate on the classified directives, except to say they were "substantial."
Officials said Bush would request money to fund the general recommendations in his 2004 budget request.
CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.