World Leaders Promote Stronger Support for NPT

* Several former high-level international decision makers and Nobel Laureates recently released statements urging greater international support for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The statements come in advance of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, which will be held in New York City in May. Signatories of the statements also included 237 organizations and parliamentarians from around the world.

Signatories, including former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, claim that the NPT has been successful at curbing the international spread of nuclear weapons since it was signed in 1970. They argue, however, that the current global security climate requires more robust safeguards against the spread of nuclear materials.

The statement reads, "Since the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear threat has evolved in dangerous ways and the global nonproliferation system faces difficult challenges." The statement recommends establishing stronger controls on technologies that can be used to produce nuclear materials, accelerating the disarmament of weapons states and more strongly securing all weapons-grade materials.

A collection of 32 Nobel Laureates and 237 organizations and parliamentarians from around the world also released a statement recently advocating for removing all strategic nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert. Despite reductions in both U.S. and Russian weapons stockpiles, both countries maintain thousands of warheads on hair-trigger alert.

The Australian Senate and the European Parliament, as well as Nobel Laureates including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, all endorsed the statement, which was coordinated by the Association of World Citizens and Friends of the Earth Australia.

The statement reads, "We call on the governments of the [U.S.], Russia, China, France, and [Britain], India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea, to support and implement steps to lower the operational status of nuclear weapon systems in order to reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe and as part of their obligations, affirmed by the International Court of Justice, to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control."

The statement also notes that the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain have failed to achieve the total elimination of their weapons stockpiles as required under the NPT.

U.S. Representatives Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, and John Spratt, of South Carolina, also plan to sponsor a resolution soon that would endorse fulfillment of the NPT. Representative Spratt, who co-sponsored a Congressional prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapons in 1994, said, "The NPT embodies one of the best security bargains ever struck. The NPT marshals the world ... against nuclear weapons with a collective force that the [U.S.] could not muster on its own and provides a framework and forum for handling the problems that continually arise. The [U.S.] has plenty of nonproliferation programs. We need nonproliferation partners, and the NPT helps supply them."

The 2005 NPT Review Conference will begin on May 2. However, on May 1, there will be a demonstration in support of the NPT in New York's Central Park, sponsored by Abolition Now and United for Peace and Justice. For more information, call (212) 726-9161.

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