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Tuesday, July 27, 1999

Asia tensions undermining global security: Akashi

Staff writer

KYOTO -- A global disarmament meeting opened Tuesday in Kyoto with warnings from former U.N. UndersecretaryGeneral Yasushi Akashi that the international security situation is unraveling because of tensions in Asia and growing friction between Moscow and Washington.

In his keynote address to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues, which includes 60 representatives from 24 countries, Akashi presented the key recommendations of the Tokyo Forum, which concluded Sunday.

Participants at that forum included arms control experts, academics and diplomats seeking to revive stalled disarmament talks and explore Asian security issues.

A report that came out of the forum calls on the United States and Russia to make a renewed effort to revive the stalled Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II negotiations.

It also says relations between the U.S. and China were deteriorating and unstable, a point echoed by Akashi, who said China's current political situation was not conducive to confidence building.

"Some may view our report as alarmist," said Akashi. "But the forum members agreed that the world will be more chaotic in the coming years."

The Tokyo Forum report offers 17 key recommendations for achieving disarmament goals.

Foremost among these is ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the U.S., Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

Other recommendations include the control of nuclear materials such as plutonium and uranium stocks, and the adoption of various verification measures.

"Zero nuclear weapons is the ultimate goal," Akashi said.

Many of the above recommendations were discussed in the Tuesday afternoon plenary sessions of the Kyoto conference.

In addition, participants touched on a wide range of related subjects, including security in Northeast Asia, piracy on the South Pacific and the role of nongovernmental organizations in nuclear disarmament talks.

Several speakers suggested that the only way to maintain security in the region is to create a multilateral forum to discuss security issues such as nuclear warheads, biological and chemical weapons, and stricter monitoring of the sale and transport of nuclear materials.

While sponsored by the United Nations, conference participants are attending in a personal, rather than a professional, capacity. Included are representatives from India and Pakistan, as well as Japan, China, the U.S. and South Korea. North Korean delegates were invited but declined, U.N. officials said.

The conference finishes Friday.

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The Japan Times

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