In Search of Security


Nuclear security is one part of a bigger global picture

As IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei notes and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals enshrine, our security threats cover a broad spectrum, and vary in nature and magnitude. They range from poverty, infectious diseases and environmental degradation to organized crime, terrorism, armed conflict and weapons of mass destruction.

The issues may appear unrelated. But upon closer look, they are clearly connected. And in today’s world, they contribute to a prevailing sense of insecurity.

Dr. El Baradei cites a late 2003 Gallup International survey of 43,000 individuals in 51 countries that asked how they felt about the state of international security. Almost twice as many respondents rated global security as “poor” as those who answered “good”. And almost half said they believed their children — the next generation — would live in an even more insecure world.

Why do we feel so insecure? What kind of security threats do we face?

He points to the huge and widening gap in living conditions, with 40% of the world´s population surviving on less than $2 per day, inevitably results in diminished opportunities and a sense of despair. These conditions — compounded in many cases by human rights abuses, the absence of good governance, and a sense of injustice and humiliation — provide the ideal environment for civil wars, organized crime, and all forms of extremism. And often, in regions plagued by longstanding conflict, countries hoping to achieve security and project power end up following in the footsteps of those who have resorted to nuclear weapons in search of security.

—Dr. ElBaradei made these points in a speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, in London. See the website for full text at:


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