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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2001

Academics, public criticize terrorism, U.S. policy

Staff writer

NAGASAKI -- Citizens and academics from across northeast Asia expressed concerns Saturday that both the activities of terrorists and the hardline stance adopted by the United States in diplomacy -- including the retaliatory attacks on Afghanistan -- threaten global peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

"I am concerned about the possibility that terrorists could use fissionable materials, which the International Atomic Energy Agency has warned of," said Koichi Hunakoe, a professor at Nagasaki University, at a conference held in Nagasaki, itself the target of an atomic bomb 56 years ago.

About 150 people attended the seventh conference of citizens of nuclear free municipalities, organized by the Nuclear Free Zone Citizen Network Japan nongovernmental organization.

Referring to the fact that the U.S. recently opposed a United Nations resolution -- proposed by Japan -- calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, Hunakoe said he is worried that the U.S. may be considering using nuclear weapons against the terrorists before they have the opportunity to use weapons of mass destruction against the U.S.

Hunakoe also criticized the recent decision by the Japanese government to dispatch two Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers and a supply ship to the Indian Ocean as part of Japan's support for the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan. The ships left Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Friday.

Konstantin Sarkisov, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the public should consider the danger of the possible use of nuclear weapons by terrorists.

Sarkisov also said that Japanese people can cooperate in the campaign to abolish nuclear weapons with people in some Russian cities, where residents were affected by radiation during the development of nuclear weapons by the former Soviet Union.

Lundaa Davaajargal, second secretary at the Mongolian Embassy in Tokyo, explained that Mongolia declared itself to be nuclear weapons-free at the U.N. General Assembly in 1992 in order to protect the nation by nonmilitary means.

He added that Ulan Bator has requested that the five declared nuclear states -- the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China -- do not attack Mongolia with nuclear weapons.

"If the commitment to Mongolia as a nuclear-free state succeeds, it will be an important step in making Asia nuclear-free," said Davaajargal.

Commenting on the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, Sang-Hee Lee, a professor emeritus at Seoul National University, criticized the hardline stance of U.S. against the Taliban regime, claiming the military attacks have damaged peace talks between North and South Korea.

"The prospects for easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and establishing peace, coexistence and co-prosperity in the region were proceeding in concrete programs (after the leaders of the two Koreas met in 2000)," said Lee. "But the unilateral and oppressive foreign policy of the (George W.) Bush administration has ruined the momentum for peace on the Korean Peninsula."

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