Iran, North Korea Issues Dominate Opening
of Nonproliferation Conference
By Peter Heinlein
on nuclear non-proliferation treaty
about Iran and North Korea have dominated the opening session
of a month-long conference on preventing the spread of nuclear
weapons. The United States is proposing international measures
against countries in violation of nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
Annan Monday warned that the 1970 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
(NPT) must be updated to meet challenges unforeseen when it was
signed 35 years ago. Mr. Annan’s warning came in an address to
a conference at the United Nations to review the NPT, considered
the cornerstone of arms control.
plain fact is that the regime has not kept pace with the march
of technology and globalization, and developments of many kinds
in recent years have placed it under great stress," he said.
acknowledged that the NPT review conference faces a number of
daunting challenges that have cast serious doubt on its chances
for success. Among them is a clash of priorities.
On one hand,
countries such as the United States, want to focus on issues such
as Iran, North Korea and preventing terrorists from acquiring
nuclear weapons. On the other are those pushing the big powers
to make a stronger commitment to nuclear disarmament.
In his speech,
the secretary-general did not mention any country by name, but
he issued a clear challenge to Russia and the United States to
further reduce nuclear stockpiles built up during the Cold War.
step would be for former Cold War rivals to commit themselves
irreversibly to further cuts in their arsenals, so that warheads
number in the hundreds, not the thousands," he said.
to the conference, Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker
was more blunt. He referred several times to Washington’s concern
about suspected nuclear weapons activity in North Korea and Iran.
support for European Union efforts to persuade Tehran to provide
assurances that it has ended its clandestine nuclear weapons program.
But he called for international action against countries that
violate their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
today, Iran persists in not cooperating fully. Iran has made clear
its determination to retain the nuclear infrastructure it secretly
built in violation of its NPT safeguards obligations, and is continuing
to develop its nuclear capabilities around the margins of the
suspension it agreed to last November," he said.
also noted that North Korea had violated the NPT repeatedly before
withdrawing from the treaty two years ago. He reiterated Washington’s
rejection of Pyongyang’s call for direct negotiations on ending
its nuclear weapons program.
attempting to bring together the regional players in the Six Party
Talks to convince Pyongyang that its only viable option is to
negotiate an end to its nuclear ambitions. We have tabled a proposal
that addresses the North’s stated concerns and also provides for
the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North
Korean nuclear programs," he said.
The NPT is
reviewed every five year at a conference where consensus political
commitments are not legally binding, but reinforce non-proliferation
initiatives. Nearly all 191 U.N. member states are participating.
Minister Kamal Kharrazi is due to address the gathering Tuesday.
North Korea, which withdrew, only three countries, India, Pakistan
and Israel, have not signed the NPT convention, and are not attending