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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

06 February 2006

U.S. Senator Urges Strong Nonproliferation Regime

Foreign relations panel chair advocates U.N. sanctions if Iran diplomacy fails

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- Urging the Security Council to consider the economic and moral threats the world faces from weapons of mass destruction (WMD), U.S. Senator Richard Lugar February 6 said the council must be prepared to impose sanctions if Iran does not comply with U.N. resolutions and arms agreements.

"The nonproliferation precedents we set in the coming decade are likely to determine whether the world lives in anxious uncertainty from crisis to crisis or whether we are able to construct a global coalition dedicated to preventing catastrophes and to giving people the confidence and security to pursue fulfilling lives," Lugar said.

If Iran does not comply with U.N. resolutions and arms agreements, the senator said, "the Security Council must apply strict and enforceable sanctions.  Failure to do so will severely damage the credibility of a painstaking diplomatic approach and call into question the world's commitment to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons."

The international community must be decisive in responding to nations that violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or other international arms agreements, the senator said during a public meeting with the 15-nation Security Council.

Inaction, he said, "would greatly increase the chances of military conflict and could set off regional arms races," adding that "diplomatic and economic confrontations are preferable to military ones."

Lugar, who said he favors "a strong diplomatic approach" to Iran, did not suggest any political or economic sanctions.  He told journalists after the meeting that if, in the end, sanctions are needed such action "will require great thoughtfulness" on the part of the council.

Lugar, Republican of Indiana, is chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He and committee members Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, and Senator George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, were at U.N. headquarters for meetings with U.N. Under Secretary-General for Management Christopher Burnham, General Assembly President Ambassador Jan Eliasson and members of other U.N. delegations in addition to Security Council members.

Threats associated with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) affect each nation's ability to deliver domestic improvements, Lugar said.  If nations are unable to secure components and materials as well as WMDs themselves, it will effect investment, world commerce and public confidence.

"Without dismissing the economic needs of any nation, I would submit that nuclear proliferation is not in the interest of any national economy over the long run.  Whatever short-term economic gains that may be realized by tolerating noncompliance with international nonproliferation norms will be overtaken by the risks and costs associated with greater instability," he said.

The main thrust of Lugar's presentation to the Security Council was strengthening the United Nations through reform. He presented 10 specific reform proposals.

He emphasized that the United States wants the United Nations to be able to facilitate international burden sharing in times of crisis, be a respected forum for diplomatic discussions and be a positive force in the global fight against poverty, disease and hunger.  The Senate delegation, he said, came "as strong friends, not as critics."

"We care about the United Nations," Lugar said.  "We believe that it is important that the United Nations be effective.  The resources the United Nations has are not unlimited and therefore the business management of these resources is in the best interest of all of us."

"It is not a question of dividing between large countries and small countries the responsibility of patronage jobs or of all the vested interests accumulated for 50 years.  The question is ‘Can the U.N. be effective and to be effective that means credibility with the world?’" the senator said.

Lugar's suggested reforms included establishing a Human Rights Council; creating an ethics office; creating an effective whistleblower protection policy; enforcing a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation by U.N. personnel worldwide; overhauling the procurement system; and reviewing all mandates more than five years old.

Senator Lugar's statement to the Security Council is available as a pdf file on the U.N. Mission Web site.

For additional information, see The United States and U.N. Reform.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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