WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Bill
Richardson said the United States needs to do more to prevent a
"nuclear 9-11," a threat that he argues has been neglected
because the Bush administration has been consumed with Iraq.
The New Mexico governor said the United States must lead an
effort to secure nuclear materials in Russia and dangerous areas of
the world so they can't get into terrorists' hands. "If al-Qaida
obtained nuclear weapons, they would not hesitate to use them with
the same ruthlessness that allowed them to fly airplanes filled
with people into buildings," he said in a speech to the Nitze
School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins
"It took a Manhattan project to create the bomb," Richardson
said. "We need a new Manhattan project to stop the bomb - a
comprehensive program to secure all nuclear weapons and all
weapons-usable material, worldwide."
Asked why he doesn't support a nuclear-free world like former
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other Cold War leaders have
promoted, Richardson replied, "I'm a pragmatist."
"I believe what the world needs to do is nuclear arms
reductions," Richardson said. He recalled that it didn't work when
President Reagan and Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev agreed
in 1986 to renounce all nuclear weapons "for about 10 minutes."
Richardson worked on securing Russian nuclear weapons when he
was energy secretary in the Clinton administration. But he accused
the Bush administration of underfunding their programs.
"Meanwhile, we are spending $10 billion a month on Iraq," he
said. "Of the many ways in which the Iraq war has distracted us
from our real national security needs, this is the most
In the question-and-answer period after his speech, Richardson
laid out the plans for his first days in the White House. The first
day, he would get out of Iraq. The second, he would announce a plan
to drastically cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
On the third day, the issue would be global warming. Richardson
gave former Vice President Al Gore credit for spreading knowledge
about the issue through his Oscar-winning film. But he wasn't
encouraging Gore to enter the 2008 race.
"I like Al Gore, he looks very healthy and prosperous,"
Richardson said with a laugh. "He should stay where he is."