WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Wednesday the United States would stop North Korea from transferring nuclear weapons to Iran or al-Qaida and that the communist regime would then face "a grave consequence."
Bush refused to spell out how the United States would retaliate. "They'd be held to account," the president said in an ABC News interview.
In light of North Korea's Oct. 9 test detonation of a nuclear bomb, Bush warned that any transfer of nuclear material elsewhere in the world by the North would be considered a grave threat to the security of the United States. He previously used "grave threat" in relation to Iraq's Saddam Hussein, whose government was toppled in the U.S.-led war in 2003.
"If we get intelligence that they're about to transfer a nuclear weapon, we would stop the transfer, and we would deal with the ships that were taking the -- or the airplane that was dealing with taking the material to somebody," the president said.
Asked how he would retaliate, Bush would not be specific, "You know, I'd just say it's a grave consequence."
"The leader of North Korea must be made to understand that he'll be held to account. Just like he's being held to account now for having run a test."
The United States repeatedly has said it does not intend to attack the North. But the Bush administration also has refused to take any military option completely off the table.
Shifting to Iraq, Bush said intensifying violence now might be compared with the Tet offensive in Vietnam beginning in 1968. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese armies undertook a series of attacks that shook America's confidence about winning the war and eroded political support for President Johnson.
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