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Thursday, July 29, 1999

UNSC urged to prevent nuclear proliferation

Staff writer

KYOTO -- Delegates to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues in Kyoto discussed the nonproliferation treaty Thursday morning, urging the U.N. Security Council to do more to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"While some agreements, notably the Antipersonnel Mines Treaty, have been a success, over the last 10 years, the five declared nuclear powers (the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China) have failed to pursue disarmament vigorously," said Marcos Azambuja, the Brazilian ambassador to France.

The ambassador also criticized the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, and said it must be fundamentally revised and revitalized to allow for more regional diplomatic efforts.

On Wednesday afternoon, controversy erupted after delegates who heavily criticized an unofficial report on regional disarmament were told by a Japanese government spokesman that Japan would ask the U.N. General Assembly to distribute it as an official document.

The report was released Sunday by the Tokyo Forum, which consists of 21 nuclear disarmament experts and is cochaired by former U.N. Undersecretary General Yasushi Akashi.

Delegates took issue with a number of the report's suggestions, especially a recommendation that India and Pakistan accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as nonnuclear weapon states. As both countries carried out nuclear tests in May 1998, this proposal was dismissed by most delegates as unrealistic.

Akashi acknowledged the criticism but said the purpose of that particular recommendation was to allow both India and Pakistan to take intermediate steps so that, in the long run, this would be possible.

Toshio Sano, director of the Foreign Ministry's arms control and disarmament division, startled many of the foreign delegates when he concluded the afternoon session by saying the Japanese government supports the report in principle and would recommend it to the United Nations at an unspecified future date.

Sponsored by the U.N. Department of Disarmament Affairs and the Tokyo-based U.N. Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, the Kyoto conference is unofficial in nature, with the 60 participants from 24 countries having been invited in a personal, not official, capacity. The conference concludes today.

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The Japan Times

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