During the Cold War, it proved possible to reach many significant agreements on disarmament. Why does it seem so impossible now, when the great powers no longer feel threatened by one another?Read Blix's essay here.
Almost all the talk these days is about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to states like Iran and North Korea, or to terrorists. Foreign ministers meet again and again, concerned that Iran has enriched a few milligrams of uranium to a 4 percent level.
Some want to start waving the stick immediately. They are convinced that Iran will eventually violate its commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to forego nuclear weapons.
While it's desirable that the foreign ministers talk about Iran, they don't seem to devote any thought to the fact that there are still some 27,000 real nuclear weapons in the United States, Russia and other states, and that many of these are on hair-trigger alert.
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A report with 60 concrete recommendations to the states of the world on what they could do to free themselves from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, worked out by an independent international commission of which I was the chairman, is now available at WMDCommission.org.
Apart from proposals for measures to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction to more states and terrorists, the report points to two measures that could turn current concerns about renewed arms races into new hopes for common security. In both cases, success would depend on the United States.
A U.S. ratification of the comprehensive test-ban treaty would, in all likelihood, lead other states to ratify and bring all such tests to an end, making the development of nuclear weapons more difficult. Leaving the treaty in limbo, as has been done since 1996, is to risk new weapons testing.
The second measure would be to conclude an internationally verified agreement to cut off the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes.
This would close the tap everywhere for more weapons material and would be of special importance if an agreement on nuclear cooperation with the United States were to give India access to more uranium than it has at the moment.
Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has this to say from Stockholm: