Nuclear terrorism a 'very real danger': Fischer

3rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

3 May 2005, NEW YORK - German foreign minister Joschka Fischer told the UN nuclear non- proliferation conference on Monday that the risk of nuclear war remains real because of the "ruthless violence of international terrorism", adding that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should play a central role in countering the threats of nuclear attacks.

3 May 2005

NEW YORK - German foreign minister Joschka Fischer told the UN nuclear non- proliferation conference on Monday that the risk of nuclear war remains real because of the "ruthless violence of international terrorism", adding that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should play a central role in countering the threats of nuclear attacks.

The month-long NPT conference began on Monday after UN officials warned that threats of nuclear attacks have increased despite efforts at the conference five years ago to strengthen the 35-year-old treaty.

Secretary General Kofi Annan challenged governments to recognise the increasing dangers of nuclear weapons and take steps to disarm, including urging nuclear powers to reduce their warhead stocks. He said breaches of treaty have been piling up one on top of another.

He cited the need to stop proliferation in volatile regions of the world, said the spread of nuclear fuel cycle technology has become an unacceptable proliferation threat and added that the peaceful uses of nuclear technology must not be compromised.

The current nuclear arsenals constitute a "real danger", he said.

"I challenge you to accept that disarmament, non-proliferation and the right to peaceful uses [of nuclear power] are all vital," he told the 188 NPT signatories at the conference. "I challenge you to agree that they are all too important to be held hostage to the politics of the past, and I challenge you to acknowledge that they all impose responsibilities on all states."

Annan urged the NPT signers to take steps to strengthen the pact. One step is for nuclear powers and Cold War rivals to reduce their nuclear warheads to hundreds, not thousands, he said.

"These steps would materially reduce the risk of the use of nuclear weapons," Annan said, "but ultimately, the only way to guarantee that they will never be used is for our world to be free of such weapons."

The US representative at the conference said Washington is fully committed to meeting its NPT obligations, pointing to planned warhead reductions with Russia to 1,700 to 2,000, about a third of the number operational in 2000.

The United States also used the non- proliferation podium to pressure North Korea and Iran to dismantle their nuclear programmes.

The two countries were singled out by Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker, who lambasted them for violating the NPT.

Rademaker said North Korea breached NPT safeguards and non- proliferation obligations before announcing its withdrawal from the treaty in 2003 and, this year, admitting it has nuclear weapons.

He also accused Iran of clandestine nuclear weapons activities, which he said was aided by Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.

He said efforts in the past two years by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, failed to persuade Teheran to cooperate fully with disarmament. He said Teheran has decided to keep its nuclear infrastructure, "secretly built in violation of its NPT safeguard obligations".

Iran has said its nuclear programme is for energy production only.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told the conference that the risk of nuclear war remained real because of the "ruthless violence of international terrorism".

"We must view nuclear terrorism as a very real danger," Fischer said. He said the NPT should play a central role in countering the threats of nuclear attacks.

The conference, which will last until 27 May, is a five-year review of the effectiveness of the NPT. The treaty has been ratified by 188 countries, including the five permanent UN Security Council members and nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain.

The first few days of the conference allowed high-ranking government officials to raise NPT-related issues. Those officials will then hold group discussions on specific issues to strengthen the treaty.

Pakistan and India, which possess nuclear weapons, have not signed the NPT. North Korea, which announced this year that it also holds nuclear weapons, withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and expelled the IAEA.

[Copyright DPA with Expatica]

Subject: German news

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