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"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Bush Calls on UN to Curb Proliferation
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Christine Kucia

The Bush administration is urging the UN Security Council to adopt an anti-proliferation resolution that would call upon member states to “criminalize” the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. In a Sept. 23 address at the opening of the UN General Assembly, President George W. Bush warned that “[t]he deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away.” He called on states to adopt tighter export controls, stronger legislation, and better border security to prevent the illicit transfer of materials and offered U.S. support to any country that needed help devising such programs.

Bush used the speech to justify further his handling of the war in Iraq and, amid criticism over Washington’s preemptive strike policy, called on member states to lend their support to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Speaking earlier in the day, UN General Secretary Kofi Annan harshly attacked the Bush administration’s position—without actually naming names. “Now, some say…states have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.” Annan condemned such logic, warning it “could set precedents that result in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification.”

Beyond calling for the nonproliferation resolution, Bush offered no new initiatives and failed to mention the world’s most pressing proliferation concerns: Iran and North Korea. Instead, the president stuck to familiar themes, reiterating the existence of measures such as the newly formed Proliferation Security Initiative (see page 24) and the Nunn-Lugar program as examples of steps that are being taken to prevent dangerous materials from getting into the wrong hands.

French President Jacques Chirac also stressed nonproliferation in his comments. He proposed holding a council summit meeting to frame a “genuine” UN action plan against proliferation, as well as creating a permanent corps of inspectors under the council’s authority.

In Their Own Words...Excerpts from the UN General Assembly Sept. 23

By President George W. Bush

A second challenge we must confront together is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Outlaw regimes that possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons—and the means to deliver them—would be able to use blackmail and create chaos in entire regions. These weapons could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we can scarcely imagine. The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away. If such a danger is allowed to fully materialize, all words, all protests, will come too late. Nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will to stop grave threats before they arrive.

One crucial step is to secure the most dangerous materials at their source. For more than a decade, the United States has worked with Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union to dismantle, destroy, or secure weapons and dangerous materials left over from another era. Last year in Canada, the Group of Eight nations agreed to provide up to $20 billion—half of it from the United States—to fight this proliferation risk over the next 10 years. Since then, six additional countries have joined the effort. More are needed, and I urge other nations to help us meet this danger.

We’re also improving our capability to interdict lethal materials in transit. Through our Proliferation Security Initiative, 11 nations are preparing to search planes and ships, trains and trucks carrying suspect cargo, and to seize weapons or missile shipments that raise proliferation concerns. These nations have agreed on a set of interdiction principles, consistent with legal—current legal authorities. And we’re working to expand the Proliferation Security Initiative to other countries. We’re determined to keep the world’s most destructive weapons away from all our shores, and out of the hands of our common enemies.

Because proliferators will use any route or channel that is open to them, we need the broadest possible cooperation to stop them. Today, I ask the UN Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution. This resolution should call on all members of the UN to criminalize the proliferation of weapons—weapons of mass destruction—to enact strict export controls consistent with international standards, and to secure any and all sensitive materials within their own borders. The United States stands ready to help any nation draft these new laws, and to assist in their enforcement....

By President Jacques Chirac

In the face of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, we reject all faits accomplis. We must stand united in ensuring the universality of treaties and the effectiveness of nonproliferation regimes. We must strengthen our means of action in order to ensure compliance....

By Secretary General Kofi Annan

In the Korean Peninsula, and elsewhere, the threat of nuclear proliferation casts an ominous shadow across the landscape….

Weapons of mass destruction do not threaten only the western or Northern world. Ask the people of Iran, or of Halabja in Iraq. Where we disagree, it seems, is on how to respond to these threats….

The council needs to consider how it will deal with the possibility that individual states may use force preemptively against perceived threats. Its members may need to begin a discussion on the criteria for an early authorization of coercive measures to address certain types of threats; for instance, terrorist groups armed with weapons of mass destruction….

Excellencies, we have come to a fork in the road. This may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded….