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US Security Strategy Upholds First-Strike Military Option


The White House has issued an updated version of the United States' national security strategy, reaffirming the Bush administration's willingness to consider staging pre-emptive military strikes against hostile nations or terrorist groups.

President Bush notes in today's report that the United States prefers to use diplomacy to halt the spread of dangerous weapons around the world. "However, under long-standing principles of self-defense," the document says, the United States does "not rule out the use of force before attacks occur."

The official statement says such pre-emptive action could take place even if there is "uncertainty" about the time or place of an enemy attack.

The lengthy 49 page document also notes the administration's concerns about the Chinese and Russian governments' current policies, and their effect on the United States' national and economic security.

The national security statement updates policies and strategies President Bush announced in the aftermath of al-Qaida's terror attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.

It pays particular attention to the security threats posed by nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. Tehran and Pyongyang also are in a group of seven nations denounced by the White House for their "despotic systems" - Syria, Cuba, Belarus,
Burma and Zimbabwe, in addition to Iran and North Korea.

On China, the White House statement criticizes "old ways of thinking and acting" by Beijing in its competition for energy resources.

China's leaders, the document says, are "expanding trade, but acting as if they can somehow 'lock up' energy supplies around the world or seek to direct markets rather than opening them up."

Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, today's report says the Bush administration is worried that Russia is falling off the path to democracy.

"Recent trends regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions," the document says. Future U.S.-Russian relations, it adds, "will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic, that Russia adopts."

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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