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‘Despite setbacks, some progress has been made on reducing use of nuclear weapons’

10th Amman Security Colloquium opens at UJ

By Suzanna Goussous - Nov 17,2016 - Last updated at Nov 17,2016

AMMAN — Officials and representatives of international organisations on Wednesday discussed measures to reduce the use of nuclear weapons, and promote non-proliferation and disarmament policies to ensure peace and stability around the world.

The 10th Amman Security Colloquium, held on Wednesday at the University of Jordan (UJ), was organised by the Arab Institute for Security Studies, the government of the Netherlands, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Deborah Rosenblum, executive vice president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, said the world is facing a “complex environment” nowadays with many challenges in key countries around the world.

To make progress on the global agenda, she said, various initiatives have been launched, such as the recent UN security resolution to begin negotiations on a ban treaty, which was approved by 123 countries yet none of them were among the nations possessing nuclear weapons.

“The international community also struggles to address proliferation threats from North Korea and … intentions from nuclear arms from India and Pakistan,” Rosenblum added.

However, there are many steps that governments can take to create a world without nuclear weapons and to reduce the dangers and risks within the region and the world, she said, such as creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and committing to non-proliferation and disarmament.

For Adam M. Scheinman, special representative of the US president for nuclear non-proliferation, several significant changes have taken place despite the disappointments witnessed over the past few years in efforts to promote non-proliferation. 

“One element of consistency in the US approach to non-proliferation has been support of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty,” he said at the colloquium.

“We expect the new administration to undertake a thorough review of all aspects of NPT [Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty] policy and consider what can be done to further strengthen this important treaty to ensure its long-term integrity,” Scheinman added.

Under President Barack Obama, he said, there have been many “disappointments” in the non-proliferation area; however, there were some significant achievements, with the most recent US-Russian “New START” treaty that is expected to “push strategic nuclear weapons to the wall”.

“It’s fair to say that no measure has been associated with the implementation of Article 6 of the NPT more than the CTBT [Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty]. The full potential of the CTBT remains unfulfilled,” Scheinman added.

Commenting on the Middle East’s NPT Review Conference, which did not reach an agreement on a final document, he said the result “was not entirely unexpected”, considering the difficult political environment in the region.

“We don’t view the failure to reach agreement at the Review Conference as a failure of the treaty… The NPT is the only international… treaty that obligates its members to pursue nuclear disarmament.”

The strategy for dealing with the Middle East Free Zone, Scheinman said, would be through cooperation and consensus, not pressure. 

A total of 183 countries have signed the CTBT, 166 of which have “ratified” it, according to Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the CTBTO.

“More than 90 per cent of the world is saying ‘no’ to nuclear testing, and because of eight countries, we have to wait,” he said.

In September, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, he said, which he said is an important step to discuss the relevance of CTBT and a step closer to nuclear disarmament.

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