U.N. speakers urge Pakistan to free up arms talks

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by smartindian, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. smartindian

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    U.N. speakers urge Pakistan to free up arms talks




    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Heaping pressure on Pakistan, a high-level U.N. meeting called on Friday for talks to start immediately on a treaty to ban production of fissile material used as fuel for nuclear weapons.

    But Pakistan has insisted it will continue to block such talks, arguing that a ban would put it at a permanent disadvantage to its nuclear rival India. The dispute has led to deadlock at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

    At the U.N. meeting of some 70 states to discuss the paralysis at the conference, speakers avoided openly naming Pakistan, but several referred to "one country" that was causing the problem.

    In a closing summary of the views expressed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there was "broad agreement on the need to immediately start negotiations on a ... treaty banning the production of fissile material."

    Continued impasse could result in states going outside the Geneva conference, known as the "CD," to tackle the issue, Ban warned.

    Support has appeared to be growing in Geneva to find another approach -- possibly small-group talks in parallel to CD sessions. A precedent was set when Canada and Norway moved talks on a landmine ban out of the forum, eventually clinching the landmark 1997 Ottawa Treaty.

    At Friday's U.N. meeting, Western powers sharply attacked Pakistan's blockage of the CD, which requires consensus for its actions.

    "It strikes us as unwarranted for a single country to abuse the consensus principle and thereby frustrate everyone else's desire to resume serious disarmament efforts," said U.S. delegate Gary Samore, a special adviser

    Washington understood that all countries needed to protect their security interests, and with that principle in place, "no country need fear the prospect of (fissile material) negotiations," Samore said.

    NO CONSENSUS

    British junior foreign minister Alistair Burt said blocking the negotiations was "damaging for multilateral arms control."

    Launched in 1978, the CD has clinched treaties banning biological and chemical weapons as well as underground nuclear tests. Its members include all five official nuclear powers -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.

    But it has been unable to reach consensus on substantive work for the past 12 years. Pakistan's refusal since January to launch negotiations on fissile material like plutonium and highly enriched uranium is the latest obstacle.

    Zamir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said earlier this month his country would continue to hold out, arguing that India has an unfair advantage with bigger fissile material stockpiles and "discriminatory" nuclear cooperation deals with the United States.

    "Pakistan's security concerns can be addressed only once we have developed sufficient capacity to ensure our deterrent is credible in the face of growing asymmetry," he told Reuters. "My instructions are, 'We continue to maintain our position.'"

    Pakistan did not speak at Friday's meeting in New York. No decisions were made, but Ban said he would ask a panel of advisers to review the issues raised.

    Separately, French delegate Jacques Audibert said Paris would host a meeting of the five official nuclear powers next year to discuss their obligations stemming from a May conference on nuclear non-proliferation.

    The conference called on the powers to pursue negotiations ultimately aimed at the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

    U.N. speakers urge Pakistan to free up arms talks | World | Reuters
     
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