Gas Week

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Nuclear weapon states renewing and modernising their nuclear arsenals; why is it so hard to co-operate for peace?, asks Hans Blix

Posted by gasweek on 2 October, 2007

By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, US confidence and trust in international negotiations, particularly dealing with disarmament issues, was at a record low, according to Hans Blix, former UN chief weapons inspector, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (28/8/2007, p.13).

Sabres being rattled: And tensions continue to grow. Instead of negotiations towards disarmament, nuclear weapon states are renewing and modernising their nuclear arsenals. In 2006 North Korea tested a nuclear device, showing the world that it had the capacity to build a bomb. In the wake of a US decision to place com­ponents of its missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia declared its withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. China has demonstrated its space-war capabili­ties by shooting down one of its own weather satellites in space.

Why is self-preservation so difficult?: The co-operative approach needed to be complemented by the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, a cut-off treaty on the pro­duction of fissile material for weapons purposes, and effective safeguards and international verification – to prevent states as well as non-state actors from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities, Blix argued. If all could agree that we needed inter­national co-operation and multilateral solutions to protect the earth against climate change and the destruction of our environment, to keep the world economy in balance and moving, and to prevent terrorism and organised crime – then should it be so difficult to con­clude that we also needed to co-operate to stop shooting at each other, Blix asked.

Reference: Dr Hans Blix is chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission and president of the World Federation of United Nations Associations. He was formerly the chief weapons inspector of the UN. This is an edited extract of a speech given in Melbourne last night.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 28/8/2007, p. 13

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