Ensuring the widest possible range of options against a diverse list of potential targets - that, say government sources, sums up the military thinking of US President George W. Bush in his expanding 'new war' on terrorism. A week of shifting rhetoric from his senior officials has done little to clarify the exact position of the United States following Mr Bush's 'axis of evil' speech to the nation. In it, he warned of the wider threat posed by rogue states such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea and suggested that the US could still be at war beyond his presidency. On Wednesday, Mr Bush's spy chief, George Tenet, became the latest to put rhetorical flesh on the bones of the State of Union address. In a rare appearance before the US Congress, the CIA director spoke of the 'convergence of threats'. In short, this concept links the risks posed by weapons proliferation and instability in various states with the more shadowy terrorist world represented by the likes of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. Mr Tenet played up connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda but stopped short of making a firm link between Baghdad and September 11. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the CIA had no evidence that Iraq had engaged in terrorist acts against the US since 1993 or supplied al-Qaeda with chemical or biological weapons. North Korea continued actively to court sales of equipment, expertise and raw materials to boost weapons programmes in Libya, Syria and Iran, Mr Tenet said. Iran, the director said, was the 'foremost state sponsor of terror' given its links to radical Islamic groups. He warned that the reformist tendencies of the regime of Iran's President Mohammad Khatami had been stymied by hardliners, and that its security forces were 'bent on countering the US presence' in Afghanistan. One White House official said: 'We are ruling nothing in and nothing out. The world is suddenly a more dangerous place and if we perceive a serious threat to our national security, we will move swiftly and with determination to end that threat wherever it may be. That was Mr Bush's ultimate message.' Specifically, that could mean a major push to unseat Saddam Hussein in Iraq - which would have widespread diplomatic and strategic consequences - or a limited strike to curb efforts by Iran or North Korea to seriously expand their respective missile programmes, particularly if the US fears terrorists are buying missiles. Pentagon planners are understood to have prepared reports to deal with all such contingencies. Mr Tenet's 'convergence' gets more complicated in the case of China and Russia. While carefully playing up their co-operation in the 'new war', the Bush administration continues to warn both Moscow and Beijing about ongoing weapons sales programmes. Iran's military features heavily among the list of customers of both Russia and China - a potential source of friction as Mr Bush's interest moves beyond the hunt for bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership. Both capitals have expressed concern at the unilateral thrust of Mr Bush's new foreign policy, yet both will be vital players in any international coalition, particularly in the event of a war on Iraq.