.News Update 6/7/06

International Commission Recommends Change In Approach To Nuclear Weapons

International Commission Recommends Change In Approach To Nuclear Weapons

The international independent Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission recently released a report which examines how the world can address the problem of weapons of mass destruction and encourage non proliferation. The report, titled "Weapons of Terror," states that current efforts have stagnated and puts forward a number of concrete proposals to revitalize global cooperation for disarmament. The study says, "[w]eapons of mass destruction cannot be un-invented. But they can be outlawed. . . and their use made unthinkable." Among the top recommendations made by the commission are that all governments must accept and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as well as stop the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The report also recommends that all governments possessing nuclear weapons reduce their arsenals and take all weapons off hair trigger alert.

When commenting on the report, commission chair Hans Blix, who lead the weapons inspections in Iraq, expressed that while current procedures and international treaties have weaknesses, a policy of unilateralism and military action has failed. The effort towards non-proliferation must include disarmament and must be a collaborative and international one, Blix says.

As a part of the collaborative effort, the report recommends that an international summit be held at the United Nations in New York on disarmament, non-proliferation and terrorist use of weapons. The report makes clear that non-proliferation can only be achieved if the current nuclear powers take leadership in reinvigorating existing treaties and initiating new ones.

In order to achieve this, the report recommends that nuclear powers, and especially the United States, adopt a no first use policy and take concrete steps to reduce their arsenals as proof of good will. The report states, "the best solution to the problem of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction [is] that countries should no longer feel that they [need] them."

Much of this effort would depend upon the United States, which is the main super power. The United States has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and has recently funded the development of new nuclear weapons. Likewise, the Bush administration has announced and acted on a policy of pre-emptive attack which the report directly condemns. The report rejects that nuclear weapons "in the hands of some pose no threat, while in the hands of others they place the world in mortal jeopardy."

The commission insists on the importance of talks with Iran and ensuring security and giving incentives. The report also draws a connection between energy technology and nuclear weapons and suggests that Iran, as an act of good will, should stop all uranium enrichment. However, activists are concerned that the report neglects to discuss the connection between nuclear power and weapons in general.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the report is that it advocates a change in attitude towards non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction. It makes clear that existing arsenals are linked to the spread and use of nuclear weapons. The commission press release states, "All states- even the great powers- must prepare to live without nuclear weapons and other weapons of terror."

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