UN report: World threatened by 'cascade of proliferation'

Endorses preemptive strikes

Friday, December 3, 2004

A report submitted to the United National today called the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction a leading threat and endorsed the preemptive strike option.

UN member states have the right to defend themselves, including preemptively, when an attack was deemed imminent, the report said. The panel also urged the Security Council to be prepared to "act earlier, more pro-actively and more decisively than in the past."

The report sounded a note of alarm, suggesting that the world is on the verge of losing control over the spread of WMD.

"We are approaching a point at which the erosion of the nonproliferation regime could become irreversible and result in a cascade of proliferation," the report said.

The report came amid an effort by the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect suspected Iranian nuclear weapons sites, Middle East Newsline reported. IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei told the New York Times on Thursday that Iran has refused to allow inspections of sites in northern and southern Iran.

"The international community does have to be concerned about nightmare scenarios combining terrorists, weapons of mass destruction and irresponsible states, which may conceivably justify the use of force, not just reactively but preventatively," the panel said in a 95-page report.

A 16-member panel concluded a study for the United Nations that warned that unidentified states and groups deemed terrorists could launch a WMD attack anywhere in the world.

"The question is not whether such action can be taken: it can, by the Security Council as the international community's collective security voice, at any time it deems that there is a threat to international peace and security."

The panel, created by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in 2003, submitted 101 recommendations to improve international security. The recommendations included stricter controls meant to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and a definition of terrorism that would prevent states from sponsoring insurgency groups that target civilians.

Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a document the UN panel said must be strengthened. The report said the NPT has lost much of its effectiveness.

"[The NPT] is not as effective a constraint as it was previously because of the lack of compliance, threats to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a changing security environment and the diffusion of technology," the report said.

"The case for collective security today rests on three basic pillars," the panel said. "Today's threats recognize no national boundaries, are connected, and must be addressed at the global and regional as well as the national levels. No state, no matter how powerful, can by its own efforts alone make itself invulnerable to today's threats."

The panel said the UN Security Council or individual states must be prepared to eliminate WMD threats before they could be carried out.

The report called on the UN to undergo reforms that would allow the world body to direct campaigns against terrorism and WMD proliferation. The recommendations, requiring approval by member states, would include "a more proactive" Security Council. The panel also urged the council to expand to 24 members.

The panel offered a definition of terrorism that unlike several Arab and Islamic states does not refer to efforts at national liberation. The panel's definition of terrorism comprised "any action ... that is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or noncombatants, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government..." to take a specific action.

"There is nothing in the fact of occupation that justifies the targeting and killing of civilians," the report said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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