Nuclear States Pledge Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Published May 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The world's five main nuclear powers Saturday pledged "an unequivocal undertaking" to eventually eliminate atomic weapons, according to a report by cnn.com  

The key provision was part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty revision signed by 187 countries and issued at the conclusion of a month-long conference at UN headquarters.  

Negotiations were held up for hours Friday when Iraq insisted that it not be accused of noncompliance with the treaty during the past five years. The United States had wanted the Iraq reference in the final document. 

The Associated Press said the US and Iraq came under intense pressure Saturday to settle "the last words" in a dispute that is blocking agreement on a new nuclear arms agenda.  

It said many of the delegates from 187 countries who have spent four weeks reviewing the global treaty controlling the spread of nuclear weapons were determined not to leave the conference at UN headquarters without consensus on the final document.  

"The world will not understand if this conference fails on this issue," said Chris Sanders, the Netherlands' disarmament ambassador in Geneva. "We will never be able to explain."  

The conference president, Algerian UN Ambassador Abdallah Baali, asked Canadian Ambassador Chris Westdal, who had worked through the night, to continue trying to get an agreement between the United States and Iraq, according to AP. 

Signaling the importance Washington placed on the issue, US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn, who is in charge of nonproliferation, flew to New York and took charge of the US negotiations, diplomats told AP.  

The five-year conference to review the global treaty on nuclear weapons operates on the principle of consensus -- and the US-Iraq dispute threatened to sabotage approval of a final document. But eventually compromise language was worked out.  

The nuclear powers -- United States, Russia, France, Britain and China -- have never before undertaken to eliminate nuclear weapons, said the CNN.  

But the agreement gave no timetable for the elimination of atomic weapons, and delegates said it would take many years to achieve a nuclear-free world.  

Additionally, the United States, Russia, France and Britain did not agree to any provision that would prohibit the first use of nuclear weapons. Only China agreed to abandon the first-use option – (Several Sources)  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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