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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Study Calls for Tougher Enforcement of Treaties on Curbing Nuclear Weapons

Lisa Schlein | Geneva 01 February 2010

A new study by an independent commission of global experts is calling for stronger enforcement of the Non-proliferation Treaty to deter countries from acquiring these weapons of ultimate destruction.

The study by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament offers a pragmatic, hard-headed analysis of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Sponsored by the governments of Australia and Japan, it offers suggestions of actions that should be taken to try to eliminate this threat.

As long as any state has nuclear weapons, the report argues other states will want to acquire them and as long as nuclear weapons exist, somebody is bound to use them by accident or by design.

Gareth Evans is a former Australian foreign minister and current co-chair of the commission. He says enforcement of the treaty must be strengthened.

He says this is necessary to prevent states from getting the material to produce a bomb under the guise of using it for peaceful nuclear energy.

He says this was the scenario employed by North Korea, which was able to achieve its nuclear capability while sheltering under the umbrella of the NPT.

"And, of course, the extent to which Iran has been able to duck and weave in terms of its reporting obligations, transparency obligations and just ignore Security Council resolutions directed at it on the enrichment issue itself is troubling -- as is some of the failures of investigation by the [International Atomic Energy Agency] itself in anticipating some of these situations," Evans said.

He says more pressure must be put on Iran to comply with Security Council resolutions. He says Russia and China must cooperate in imposing sanctions on Teheran.

But he says ultimately there will have to be a negotiated solution to get Iran back into line, and it still will not be possible to reverse the clock on enrichment.

"Iran clearly is not going to be deterred from having enrichment capability and maybe even greater break-out capability in a sense of further development of weapon design and all the rest of it. So, within a relatively short time it could, if it wanted to, actually make weapons. I do not think Iran is going to be deterred from having that posture. But, I do think it can be deterred and persuaded not to go the step that really matters actually turning that into weapons," Evans said.

There are an estimated 23,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The United States and Russia together possess 22,000. The study says it should be possible to cut these weapons down to 2,000 warheads by 2025.

It says all countries should sign a "no-first use doctrine" and nuclear states should agree not to deploy most of these weapons.

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