Izvestia: Nuclear Deadline


Luxembourg Forum to Find Ways to Prevent Catastrophe

The International Conference on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe has come to an end in Luxembourg. Fifty-seven top experts from 14 countries worked to develop a recipe for saving humanity from the nuclear threat. All the conference participants agree that the world needs a new disarmament regime.

According to Viatcheslav Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Fund and the chairman of the Conference Organizing Committee, the participants gathered in Luxembourg because they shared the same concern. A mere twenty years ago, nuclear non-proliferation was the top priority on the global agenda; however, today the world community has relaxed its vigilance. In addition to the European Jewish Fund, the Conference was organised by the University of Maryland (U.S.) and the Institute for Strategic Assessments (Russian Federation).

Kantor’s vision is close to the sentiment expressed in President Putin’s address to the Conference. Among the key challenges to humanity, the president singled out terrorists’ increasing access to nuclear weapons. Things were easier in the bipolar world when parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) were bound by their commitments. Today the treaty is failing as the global community debates on the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

“There is no way Iran can be given access to nuclear weapons. Whatever means we use to avoid a nuclear Iran are justified by the end,” said Alexei Arbatov, head of the Center for International Security of the Russian Academy of Sciences. However, Arbatov voiced another option for North Korea. “North Korea needs to return to the NPT and terminate its nuclear program.”

No one knows how to handle the situations surrounding these countries. History has seen examples of the use of force. During WWII, English troops seized heavy water production facility in Norway. In 1981, Israeli aviation forces destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq (some experts believe that Saddam Hussein was close to creating a nuclear bomb). Now Arbatov and many of his peers are certain that, against the backdrop of Afghanistan and Iraq, no one is ready to launch such a campaign to destroy 1,700 Iranian centrifuges.

However, the non-proliferation challenge is not confined to rogue states. Developing nations cannot be deprived of their right to nuclear power generation.

According to Sergey Kirienko, head of the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, access to reliable and cost-efficient resources has become a pre-requisite for sustainable development. Kirienko believes that prohibitive measures are not enough. Each country has a right to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, and the world community has the right to demand security safeguards.

IAEA director general Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei warned the experts that “f we want to prevent a nuclear catastrophe, the deadline for action is now.” His solution is to create a new global security environment in which nations will not see nuclear weapons as a form of security. At the same time, conditions are to be shaped so that nuclear weapons can be universally banned.

“The key message our Conference has for society is that the nuclear threat is real and all of humankind is exposed to it,” says Kantor. In this respect, the Conference hit its target. Its message has reached the general public and its final declaration will be circulated to world leaders. Kantor called on the international expert community to arrange unbiased monitoring and analysis of progress in nuclear non-proliferation. Such monitoring is to be designed to assist the IAEA in its current efforts. In the meantime, the Conference will lay the foundation for a future global institution of nuclear safety experts, elevated to the level of a top-tier forum.

Alexander Sadchikov