Securing Weapons of Mass Destruction

The world's richest nations -- the G8 -- have promised to secure their nuclear, chemical, and biological materials. However, these pledges are far from being fulfilled. An international coalition of 21 security organizations have warned that present security measures are inadequate to "prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction." The report, "Global Partnershp Update," was written jointly by research institutes from 16 countries, led by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. It states that only a tiny fraction of funds allocated to prevent the proliferation of WMDs have been released and therefore only a few projects have started.

Sam Nunn, former chair of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, estimated that about 100 research reactors are poorly protected in 40 different countries, leaving everyone "alarmingly vulnerable to catastrophic terrorism." He added that neither the US nor Russia is moving fast enough to keep terrorists from building nuclear weapons. "At the pace we're going, you're talking about 20 years" before nuclear sites are brought up to acceptable levels of security.

Source: Financial Times, 19 Nov. 2003.

New Agenda Coalition Resolutions at UN

The New Agenda Coalition sponsored two resolutions at the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security at the United Nations. Voting took place last November 4.

The first resolution is based on the Final Document of the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, where all parties to the NPT had agreed to take practical steps to advance nuclear disarmament. The resolution pressed for firm action. There were 121 favorable votes for it, 6 in opposition, and 38 abstantions.

The United States, Britain, and France voted against it, claiming that it went beyond prior agreements and took took no account of progress made since 2000. Pakistan and India also voted against it, opposing its call for them to join the NPT. Israel also voted against the resolution.

Germany, Japan, Australia, and North Korea all abstained. However, Canada, Iran, China, and most members of the Non-Aligned Movement voted for it. China stated that "all Nuclear Weapon States should undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, which is essential to the realization of total nuclear disarmament."

The second resolution addressed the issue of tactical (sub-strategic or short range) nuclear weapons. It received 118 votes in favor, 4 in opposition, and 41 abstentions.

The United States, Britain, France, and Russia voted against it. Russia objected to the resolution's imprecision and proposed "new and specific" commitments going beyond previous ones. China abstained.

Sources: The Acronym Institute and the UN First Committee Report 2003.

Low Level Flights in Trouble

The Canadian government maintains a low-level flying program in Labrador for the training of fighter pilots from several European countries. At one time, some 8,400 airmen per year trained there, learning to fly barely above the treetops to evade radar. Lately, however, low-level flying has become technologically unnecessary, and high flights are safer, allowing the jets to evade surface-launched missiles.

Accordingly, several countries are re-appraising their needs and will withdraw from the program. The Netherlands has already pulled out of the scheme, and Germay will probably do so. This means that either Canada will have to pick up more of the costs or that alternative training programs will be developed to replace the low-level trainings. The Liberal government will decide this question during 2004.

Source: Steve Staples, Polaris Institute, Ottawa.

Canadian Pension Plan Funds arms industry

The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade has revealed that the Canadian Pension Plan, to which citizens are obliged to contribute, invests heavily in the arms industry. Some 16 millon Canadians have contributed to, or benefit from, the CPP, which has invested at least $2.55 billion in domestic and foreign military corporations, including 15 of the world's top 20 war contractors.

The weaponry that these investments have yielded include anti-personnel landmines, cluster bombs, fire bombs, high explosve bombs, and several types of cruise missiles.

Between 1996-2002, military corporations donated at least $7.9 million to the Liberal, Progressive Conservative, Reform, and Alliance Parties.

Source: "Operation Embedded Complicity," Press For Conversion! October 2003, Issue 52, published by Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT).

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2004

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2004, page 31. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by PMag staff here

Peace Magazine homepage