Earlier this month, six world powers met with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. The talks with the “P5+1” of the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany were the latest in a series of negotiations that have taken place over the last few months. The talks did not result in a major breakthrough, but neither was there a breakdown. Meanwhile, bipartisan support is building in Washington for a new approach to break the stalemate.
President Barack Obama’s recent remarks to the UN General Assembly regarding Iran’s nuclear program raised some critical questions. How effective are UN sanctions in limiting the nuclear capabilities of uncooperative nations? Moreover, are UN specialized agencies adequately in line with such sanctions?
This past week, Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cautioned its Board of Governors about Iran’s refusal to allow inspectors into the Parchin nuclear facility site. “It is a matter of concern that activities which have taken place since February 2012…will have an adverse impact on our ability to undertake effective verification there,” Amano warned. His plea for Iran to grant the UN nuclear watchdog unfettered access echoed comments from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a recent visit to Tehran.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will preserve dialogue with Iran and express a litany of concerns from the international community when he travels to Tehran for the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). At a press conference on Wednesday, the Secretary-General’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said such concerns “include Iran's nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”
BEIJING – The Haeju pediatric hospital in rural North Korea is overflowing with malnourished children. Racked with hunger, many are too weak to stand. One lays unresponsive, his ribs protruding. Another is covered in purple splotches like round rubber stamps. In just a few moments of video, recorded by Jonathan Dumont, the television communications officer at the World Food Program (WFP), in September 2011, North Korea's catastrophic humanitarian situation is vividly on view. And if the UN’s predictions are correct, this year will be much like the last.
Land mines and explosive remnants of war affect more than 70 countries, and though incidents related to unexploded ordnance have dropped significantly in the last few years, they still kill or maim more than 4,000 people annually.
Could 2010 finally be the year for a breakthrough in the world’s most intractable arms control problem: the elimination of nuclear weapons? There have certainly been important positive developments, most notably willingness by the United States to re-engage in multilateral diplomacy and to entertain the idea of a world free of nuclear weapons as a realistic – rather than rhetorical – goal.Just last week, the two superpowers, US and Russia, agreed on a new strategic nuclear weapons treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991, or Start. It will require the two countries to cut long-range warheads from the current tally of 2,200 to 1,550; launchers from 1,600 to 800; and cap at 700 each the number of nuclear-armed missiles and bombers.
The drive for a total ban on the testing of nuclear weapons should get a long-awaited kick-start tomorrow when the parties to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty hold a high-level conference to promote the entry into force of the treaty.