Bush Reaffirms Pre-Emptive Use of Force

Undaunted by the difficult war in Iraq, President Bush reaffirmed his strike-first policy against terrorists and enemy nations on Thursday and said Iran may pose the biggest challenge for America.

In a 49-page national security report, the president said diplomacy is the U.S. preference in halting the spread of nuclear and other heinous weapons.

"The president believes that we must remember the clearest lesson of Sept. 11: that the United States of America must confront threats before they fully materialize," national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.

"The president's strategy affirms that the doctrine of preemption remains sound and must remain an integral part of our national security strategy," Hadley said. "If necessary, the strategy states, under longstanding principles of self defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack."

Titled "National Security Strategy," the report summarizes Bush's plan for protecting America and directing U.S. relations with other nations. It is an updated version of a report Bush issued in 2002.

"When the consequences of an attack with weapons of mass destruction are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize. ... The place of pre-emption in our national security strategy remains the same," Bush wrote.

The report had harsh words for Iran. It accused the regime of supporting terrorists, threatening Israel and disrupting democratic reform in Iraq. Bush said diplomacy to halt Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons work must prevail to avert a conflict.

"This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided," Bush said.

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