Friday, September 19, 2003
By Joe Fiorill
MOSCOW--U.N. Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuyasu Abe said here today that a "collapse" of the international nonproliferation regime is possible without concerted action, notably by the United States and Russia.
Speaking to top experts and officials from 36 countries at a PIR Center -Carnegie Endowment for International Peace nonproliferation conference, Abe cited complaints that disarmament by nuclear weapon states "proceeds at a snail's pace," calling the charge "legitimate" but adding that it should not serve as an excuse for other countries to "renege on nonproliferation obligations."
He said the United States and Russian Federation "bear a special responsibility as the world's two superpowers" to contribute to strengthening international norms of disarmament and nonproliferation. The recent Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty is a significant step, he said, "but we want more."
Abe, a Japanese diplomat who assumed his position July 1, succeeding longtime disarmament official Jayantha Dhanapala of Indonesia. Abe termed the bolstering of international monitoring and verification efforts the most urgent need at the moment in the field. He said the cases of Iraq and North Korea demonstrate the insufficiency of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards arrangements but that the Additional Protocol to those agreements can be expected to "greatly enhance" such efforts.
Among other remarks, Abe called for innovative means to prevent biological weapons proliferation in the absence of an effective monitoring system, better physical protection of weapons of mass destruction materials against acquisition by "nonstate actors," strengthened export controls, better education to "build a strong norm of prohibition," and international organization reforms to address a "crisis of multilateral enforcement mechanisms" that encourages unilateralism and coalition-based action.