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Experts Examine Challenges to Global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime

Delegates at the Scientific Forum. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Senior international experts discussed serious challenges facing the non-proliferation regime at a session in Vienna devoted to safeguards and nuclear verification. The session concluded a two-day Scientific Forum that looked at global challenges and the development of atomic energy for the next 25 years.

In reviewing the global outlook for the efforts aimed at reducing the threat from weapons of mass destruction, speakers outlined global developments that impact of the effectivity of Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Special mention was given to the volatile nature of the safeguards and nuclear verification arena and the difficulty for accurately predicting broad trends.

Mr. Kåre Aas, Director General of the Security Policy and Bilateral Relations Department of Norway´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Governor on the IAEA´s Board of Governors, moderated the afternoon session. He opened the panel´s works by reminding the audience and speakers of the volatile nature of the safeguards and nuclear verification arena. "Predictions in this field have been proved to be diabolically difficult," he said.

Joseph Cirincione, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Affairs at the Center for American Progress, echoed Mr. Aas´ considerations about the difficulty of predicting specific developments in non-proliferation.

He then went on to outline what he described as the ´broad trends´ that will characterize the world over the next 25 years. It will be a warmer world; a world with fewer wars; and a world with new ideas, he said. He then added that it will be a more balanced world than that of ten years ago, and a more multilateral world than the two superpowers world of 25 years ago. "That is why," he said, "all nations, currently strong and currently weak, must work to build a world of laws, a world governed by international conventions that are fair, balanced and mutually beneficial."

Ambassador Abdallah Baali, Special Envoy of the President of Algeria, warned that over the last ten years the NPT has lost its focus. "The NPT has lost its balance. A strong emphasis has been put on non-proliferation at the expense of disarmament. Only an integrated approach to the NPT and its three pillars can guarantee a peaceful future," he stated.

In his speech, Mr. Nobuyasu Abe, Ambassador of Japan to Switzerland, said that he agreed with Ambassador Baali´s analysis. "The NPT has performed well in the early days by preventing many countries from acquiring nuclear weapons... Today, it faces serious challenges and stands at a crossroad," he observed.

He then called for the world to rebuild a strong consensus behind a non-proliferation regime. "To this end the world has to come up with a new paradigm for proliferation-free use of nuclear energy and the regime built around the IAEA to support it," he said.

Mr. Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Fellow for Non-Proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, explained that clandestine nuclear procurement networks represent a real threat to the NPT regime. "It´s a global problem. At least a dozen countries have sought clandestine procurement of nuclear technology," he remarked.

Mr. Abdul Samad Minty, Deputy Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, also called for a commitment to nuclear disarmament by Nuclear Weapons States (NWS). He was also keen to highlight the difference between nuclear armament reduction and nuclear disarmament. South Africa is in a unique position, he observed. "To date, we are the only country in the world to have renounced a nuclear weapons programme," he proudly said.

Last update: 27 July 2017