(VOA Editorial)  (440)

(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America April 15,

1eflecting the views of the U.S. government.)

In a recent speech, President Bill Clinton warned that, "The

proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is a growing peaceful nations."  The magnitude of this menace was made clear

by James Woolsey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in testimony

to members of the U.S. Congress earlier this year.  As Woolsey pointed out,

"More than 25 countries, many of them hostile to the United States and

(its) friends and allies, may have, or may be developing, nuclear and

biological and chemical weapons...and the means to deliver them."

One of these countries is Iran.  As Ambassador Thomas McNamara, U.S.

coordinator for counter-terrorism, recently pointed out, "The Iranian

regime has practiced state terrorism since it took power in 1979; it is

currently the deadliest state sponsor and has achieved a worldwide reach."

In addition to its involvement in terrorism, the Iranian regime is a major

violator of human rights and has actively opposed efforts to achieve peace

in the Middle East.

The United States has often expressed serious concern about Iranian efforts

to acquire missiles and weapons of mass destruction.  Last year, Iran

purchased a number of extended-range Scud missiles from North Korea.  And

now there are reports that Iran is negotiating the purchase of more North

Korean missiles.  As U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said

last week, "North Korea is developing a missile (estimated to have) a range

of 1,000 kilometers.  (U.S. officials) have made clear to North Korea our

opposition to its transfers of missiles and missile-related technology."

Boucher also said the United States has urged North Korea to adopt the

export guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime.  In recent

years, more than 20 countries have pledged to abide by these guidelines

aimed at limiting the spread of ballistic missiles that can be used to

deliver nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.  But North Korea has still

not agreed to adopt the Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines.  The

United States will continue to work with friends and allies to persuade

North Korea to halt missile sales that contribute to the menace of

proliferation.  In addition, the United States will continue to urge North

Korea to uphold the obligations it entered into as a party to the nuclear

non-proliferation treaty and to honor its commitments under the safeguards

agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.