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IN THE NEWS – February 2, 2002: Bush’s State of the Union - 2002-02-01

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

On Tuesday, President Bush gave his first State of the Union speech. He spoke at the Capitol Building before a joint meeting of Congress.

Mister Bush mainly discussed terrorism and security issues. He praised the United States armed forces early in his speech. He said he sent American soldiers to Afghanistan with complete belief in their bravery and skill. He said the United States was winning the war on terror thanks to them.

But, Mister Bush said there are still thousands of terrorists around the world. He said they see the world as a battlefield.

President Bush said the United States has two main goals in its fight against terrorism. He said the first is to close terrorist training camps, block terrorist plans and bring terrorists to justice.

Mister Bush said the United States already is working toward that goal in Afghanistan and other places. He noted the American troops are in the Philippines to help train its soldiers to fight terrorism. He also said American Navy ships are sailing along the coast of Africa to stop weapons shipments and prevent the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

Mister Bush said the second goal is to stop threats to the United States and the world from terrorists and governments that seek chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. He accused North Korea, Iran and Iraq of such actions. He said they are a group of evil governments.

The American leader said North Korea was arming with missiles and weapons of major destruction while starving its citizens. He said Iran seeks such weapons and exports terror. And he said Iraq has plotted to develop biological, chemical and nuclear weapons for more than ten years.

Mister Bush said the United States would work with its coalition to stop terrorists and nations that support them from building such weapons. He also said his government would continue with plans for effective missile defenses to protect itself and its allies.

President Bush is a Republican. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt gave the Democratic Party’s answer to the speech. He said his party supports the war on terror. However, Mister Gephardt said that support does not mean the party will agree to all Mister Bush’s economic plans.

Iran, Iraq and North Korea strongly rejected Mister Bush’s statement that they are evil nations. The Iranian Foreign Minister protested by cancelling his plans to attend a world economic meeting in New York. China said such statements do not solve international problems.

American officials said later that Mister Bush was not suggesting any new military action was about to happen. They said the United States is still open to talks with Iran and North Korea. But, officials said there will be no talks with Iraq until it permits the return of international weapons inspectors.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.