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Thursday, July 13, 2006

US Republicans steps against Korea

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist proposed expanding a law aimed at stemming the nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran and Syria to include North Korea, as Republicans sought more money for a US missile defense system.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican, yesterday said he would introduce legislation to add North Korea to the Iran and Syria nonproliferation act after Pyongyang defied international warnings and tested seven missiles last week.

Under the law, President George W Bush can impose sanctions on any foreign person believed to have transferred goods, services or technologies that could help those countries build nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.

''The US must prevent North Korea from obtaining additional materials for its weapons and missile programs,'' Frist said in a statement.

Sanctions could bar named individuals from doing business with the US government and prohibit the issuance of US export licenses.

Meanwhile Rep Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said he would look for ways to speed up development of a US missile-intercepting system, as House and Senate negotiators work out a defence policy bill.

''We want to accelerate the capability to intercept an incoming ballistic missile coming into an American city,'' Hunter, a California Republican, said at a news conference.

''If we find true opportunity to accelerate missile defence, I think the American people would loudly, in unison, say 'yes, let's do it.' So I think we can come up with money for that,'' Hunter said.

The United States has spent nearly $100 billion on missile defence since then-President Ronald Reagan launched what became widely known as his ''Star Wars'' initiative in the 1980s.

Democrats have criticised the program as unworkable and a drain on the budget and said the United States faces a greater threat from small ''dirty'' nuclear bombs than from missiles.


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