Anti-nuke film sounds terror warning at Cannes

16th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A terrifying study of the nuclear threat was launched at the Cannes film festival on Sunday, in a heavyweight campaign documentary showing how terrorists can get hold of atomic weapons.

The Cold War may be long over but "Countdown to Zero" -- from the producers behind Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's climate change polemic "An Inconvenient Truth" -- warns that nuclear bombs are easier to come by than ever.

Through interviews with former world leaders, spies, smugglers and scientists, British film-maker Lucy Walker's work shows how unsecured lumps of uranium in Russia could end up being used by terrorists to destroy cities.

Interviewees include ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair and Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan. Their conclusion: the world must push for "zero" nuclear weapons.

Interviews including an exclusive with Oleg Khintsagov, a Russian jailed for trying to sell enriched uranium to the Al-Qaeda network, seek to show how the failure of Cold War-era disarmament efforts allowed the danger to spread.

"This is the most urgent threat we face as human beings," Walker told a news conference after the screening. It "did not go away with the Cold War as we would love to think."

Among the talking heads in the film is Valerie Plame Wilson, a former CIA agent who worked on anti-proliferation and was targeted by the former US government which unmasked her in the fallout from the invasion of Iraq.

The Cannes festival, the world's biggest film fair, next week sees the premiere of a movie about Plame, "Fair Game" by US director Doug Liman. Plame is played by Naomi Watts and her husband Joseph Wilson by Sean Penn.

The makers of "Countdown to Zero" told reporters after Sunday's screening of the film that it could muster support for disarmament, just as "An Inconvenient Truth" gave momentum to the fight against climate change.

"We've seen that people will get involved in an issue once they've seen a film that moves them," said Jeff Skoll, one of the producers, launching the film along with members of the anti-nuke campaign group Global Zero.

"This films needs to be seen throughout the world," said one of the group's supporters, Queen Noor of Jordan.

"Especially in those nuclear or non-nuclear states where their populations have actually indicated in recent polling that they support the elimination of nuclear weapons."

© 2010 AFP

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