Sunday, October 17, 2004

Pugwash 2004 Council, Seoul: Nuclear weapons at critical turning point!

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
Recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize

54th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs

Bridging a Divided World Through International
Cooperation and Disarmament

Statement of the Pugwash Council 9 October 2004, Seoul,

The Pugwash Council, meeting during the 54th Pugwash
Conference held in Seoul, Korea from 5-8 October 2004,,
expresses its grave concern that the international
community faces a critical turning point in the threat
to global security posed by nuclear weapons.

The potential collapse of the nuclear non-proliferation
regime and the weakening of the taboos in place since
1945 on the use of nuclear weapons, coupled with the
very real dangers of a terrorist group manufacturing and
detonating a nuclear explosive device, combine to
produce a recipe for unmitigated disaster.

Regarding the non-proliferation regime, the upcoming
Third Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty
– being held in the spring of 2005 – faces daunting
challenges. The original nuclear weapons states (US,
Russia, UK, France and China) have not lived up to their
obligations under Article VI of the NPT to move
decisively toward the irreversible elimination of their
nuclear arsenals. Such inaction invites charges of
hypocrisy when these same countries seek to deny access
to nuclear technologies to non-nuclear weapons states,
or – in the case of the United States – threaten and
carry out military pre-emption to prevent the
acquisition of nuclear weapons by other countries.

On the Korean peninsula – the site of this year’s
Pugwash Conference – stability and the relaxation of
tension is undermined by continued hostility between the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the
United States and by the continued crisis over the
nuclear program of the DPRK. The DPRK’s withdrawal from
the NPT in early 2003 poses a serious challenge to the
non-proliferation regime and must be solved through
multilateral negotiation and cooperation as soon as

In the Middle East, Israel’s policy of opacity
concerning its nuclear weapons program, while meant to
avoid embarrassing NPT-parties in the region, does
provide arguments to those who advocate nuclear weapons
programs in other countries. Israeli policy also
provides a justification to those in other countries who
oppose the chemical and biological weapons conventions,
resulting in a net decrease, in our judgment, of
Israel’s security. There are also grave uncertainties
and concerns with Iran’s nuclear intentions that need to
be resolved through transparent fulfillment with IAEA
obligations. In this volatile region in the world, bold
steps are needed to support the proposals for a WMD-free
zone in the Middle East as well as such initiatives as
the Arab Plan and the Geneva Accord that can bring about
effective regional security.

In South Asia, India and Pakistan continue to face each
other with nuclear arsenals. Although significant
progress has been made in improving relations between
the two, there remains the very real possibility of the
resumption of open hostility and conflict.

More broadly, the entire framework of nuclear weapons
disarmament is in danger of being swept away. Strategic
arms control between the US and Russia is moribund, the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has not entered
into force, and serious negotiations have not even
started on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) to
eliminate production of weapons-grade Highly Enriched
Uranium (HEU) and plutonium. Moreover, too little is
being done to control and dispose of existing stockpiles
of HEU that run the risk of falling into the hands of
terrorist groups. No attention is being paid to large
numbers of tactical nuclear weapons that continue to
exist in great numbers with no military rationale
whatsoever, while the deployment of weapons in space
moves closer to reality. Adding fuel to this nuclear
fire is the fact that the Bush administration in the US
has increased the role of nuclear weapons in US national
security policy by its renewed interest in nuclear
war-fighting strategies, in possibly developing new
nuclear weapons, and in a possible resumption of nuclear

At the same time as little progress is made toward the
twin objectives of nuclear disarmament and nuclear
non-proliferation, the phenomenon of international
terrorism continues to cast a spectre over the
international community. The US-led military presence in
Iraq has become a source of continued instability and
loss of life and a focus for international terrorists.
We hope for an early mitigation of this violence and
believe that a major step in this direction would be the
transfer of authority to a democratically-elected (under
UN supervision) and effective Iraqi government. This
government should then be provided with all necessary
military support by the international community in order
to re-establish democratic law and order in Iraq.

At the 54th Pugwash Conference in Seoul, all of these
themes were touched on by such speakers as Dr. Mohamed
ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic
Energy Agency; Dr. Hussain Al-Shahristani of Iraq, who
was imprisoned by Saddam Hussein for refusing to work on
nuclear weapons, and by Nobel Peace Prize Laureautes Kim
Dae-Jung, former President of South Korea, and Dr.
Joseph Rotblat, co-founder and past President of the
Pugwash Conferences.

These speakers and others stressed the need to reduce
the tensions that undermine global security, whether
between nuclear and non-nuclear states, or between those
who act unilaterally and those committed to a
multilateral international legal order, or between those
who continue to rely on the primacy of nuclear weapons
for security and those who would reduce the insecurities
that stimulate interest in nuclear weapons in the first
place. In particular, Dr. Hussain al-Shahristani spoke
eloquently from his own experience of the moral
imperative of scientists not to work on nuclear weapons
and other instruments of indiscriminate destruction.

Time is running out if a nuclear catastrophe is to be
averted. Political solutions are urgently needed to
resolve those conflicts that either spawn international
terrorism, or increase the risk of nuclear weapons use,
or both. Global security must be based on international
institutions and the rule of law rather than on
unilateral action and an excessive reliance on military

In looking ahead to the 2005 NPT Review Conference, the
Pugwash Council calls on national governments,
multilateral institutions, and international NGOs to
lead the international community away from a misplaced
reliance on nuclear weapons and the catastrophic dangers
that await us if clear progress is not made to
decisively reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear


Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell, Executive Director Pugwash
Conferences on Science and World Affairs 11 Dupont
Circle, NW Suite 900 Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 1-202-478-3440

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