From Mr David Krieger,

Sir, Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, in his speech to the Labour party conference of October 2, invoked “the moral power of a world acting as a community” to combat terrorism. But to take a truly moral approach to US and global security, the US must heed seven urgent moral imperatives that we are still neglecting:

First, to take far stronger measures to prevent future attacks rather than simply to avenge the acts of September 11, beginning with redressing US intelligence’s massive failure to detect the threat, despite ample warnings.

Second, to assign top priority to preventing terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction, focusing resources on plausible threats of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons attacks, before funding costly missile defences against the implausible ones.

Third, to deploy military protection now for all nuclear power plants and rapidly phase them out. Nuclear reactors are dormant radiological weapons in proximity to highly populated areas. Until shutdown, protect plants and spent fuel with troops and anti-aircraft weapons.

Fourth, to bring the world’s nuclear weapons and fissile materials under control and move quickly towards eliminating these weapons. In the short term, reduce nuclear arsenals now to reliably controllable numbers to keep them out of terrorist hands.

Fifth, to commit to multilateral action to bring terrorists to justice, expressly under UN auspices and existing international treaties on terrorism and sabotage. Try perpetrators for transnational crimes against humanity before an international tribunal established for this purpose.

Sixth, to use US pre-eminence to uphold security and justice, not just for ourselves and industrialised allies but for the world, recognising that true security is co-operative and that life in the US is ultimately only as secure and decent as life on the planet.

Last, to have the moral courage to reconsider US policy in light of the question: Why are Islamic extremists willing to die to murder us? Is it, as President George W. Bush said, hatred of freedom and democracy, or our Middle East policy?

Until the 1960s, the Islamic world generally admired the US as a non-colonialist beacon of freedom and democracy. Subsequent US policies changed that. While terrorists cannot dictate US actions, neither can we fail to amend policies detrimental to our security simply for fear of appearing soft on terrorism.

*David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.