War on terrorism not over, U.S. warns NATO

Aim must be to prevent more attacks, envoy says

February 03, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MUNICH, Germany - Senior American officials tried to reassure Europeans at a global security conference here yesterday that NATO still matters but also warned that the Bush administration would continue its war against terrorism with or without its allies.

One top official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, cautioned that regardless of what the rest of the world wishes, the war against terrorism was not over. "What happened on September 11, as terrible as it was, is but a pale shadow of what will happen if terrorists use weapons of mass destruction," Wolfowitz said. "Our approach has to aim at prevention and not merely punishment. We are at war."

He told the gathered policy-makers, "Those countries that choose to tolerate terrorism and refuse to take action - or worse, those that continue to support it - will face consequences."

Wolfowitz, filling in for his boss, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, did not single out any nation. But he spoke in the context of the State of the Union address, in which President Bush described Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil" that sought weapons of mass destruction and could not be ignored, even if they were not involved in the attacks of Sept. 11.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, was more explicit, saying that Iraq is the next front of the war and "we should not shirk from acknowledging it."

Of Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, he said that "a terrorist resides in Baghdad, with the resources of an entire state at his disposal," developing weapons of mass destruction that threaten the Middle East and the world.

The reaction from European participants was a mixture of questioning and dismay. Menzies Campbell, a member of Britain's Parliament, said that "action against Iraq, it seems to me, requires uncontrovertible evidence in order to act, and I speak as a member of a parliament of a country willing to put boots on the ground."

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