Australia urges n-states to stop spread of WMD
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Australia urges n-states to stop spread of WMD

Australia urged the five declared n-states to do more to prevent the spread of WMD-but did not ask to relinquish their own stockpiles.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2004 16:46 IST

Australia urged the world's five declared nuclear states to do more to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction- but stopped short of asking them to relinquish their own stockpiles.

"It is time for the United Nations Security Council to take a firm stand on proliferation," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a speech at an independent think tank in Sydney.

He said the council - whose members include nuclear-armed Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States _ should pass a resolution requiring countries to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls and secure sensitive materials. "I want this resolution because it will lay the foundation for greater Security Council attention to WMD issues ... and set a benchmark for judging the Security Council's relevance in changing strategic circumstances," he said.

Downer also called for a stronger nuclear nonproliferation treaty to ensure that the accord's provisions for peaceful nuclear energy were not abused by rogue states to acquire the technical know-how for nuclear weapons programs.

"One option would be a code of conduct for nuclear trade and supply," he said.

Downer said current nonproliferation measures were "unacceptable."

But he stopped short of asking Security Council members- which include two of Australia's strongest allies, the U.S. and Britain- to relinquish their own nuclear weapons as called for by the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mohamed ElBaradei said earlier this month that nuclear powers should give up their weapons to make it harder for terrorists to get atomic arms.

"If the world does not change course, we risk self-destruction," El Baradei said.

Instead, Downer said Australia strongly supported programs such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the ballistic missile defense system, which allow major nuclear powers such as the United States to slow down the spread of nuclear weapons while keeping their own.

The Proliferation Security Initiative was launched last year by 16 nations, including the United States, Japan and Australia. It aims to halt the spread of nuclear technology, partly by intercepting shipments between rogue states.

Aside from the five established nuclear powers, countries such as Pakistan and India have nuclear programs, and U.S. officials believe North Korea has one or two nuclear bombs.

First Published: Feb 23, 2004 16:46 IST