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UN Chief Attends Hiroshima Ceremony

Meri Lugo

In the first visit by a sitting UN secretary-general to Hiroshima’s annual observance of the atomic bombing of the city, Ban Ki-moon last month touted recent strides toward arms reductions worldwide while calling for more dramatic steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

In an Aug. 6 speech commemorating the 65th anniversary of the U.S. bombing, Ban praised the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia and the nuclear security summit in Washington in April. “[But] we must keep up the momentum,” he said. He announced he would convene a meeting Sept. 24 at the United Nations to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament, where efforts to begin negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) and other arms control measures have stalled (see page 48).

Ban said he would discuss building consensus on a way forward for an FMCT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The world should set a goal of bringing the CTBT into force by 2012, he said. He also pressed for movement toward “agreement on a no-first-use doctrine, paving the way toward a no-use doctrine.”

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos attended this year’s Peace Memorial Ceremony, the first time a U.S. official had done so. Representatives from France and the United Kingdom also attended the ceremony for the first time.

An estimated 140,000 Japanese were killed instantly in the Hiroshima bombing, and an additional 70,000 are estimated to have died during the bombing of Nagasaki three days later. These estimates do not include the hundreds of thousands of Japanese who later succumbed to radiation poisoning or cancer as a result of the bombings.


Japanese Panel Moots Nuclear Principle

Peter Crail

AJapanese government defense panel questioned in an Aug. 27 report whether Tokyo should maintain its principle of barring the entry of nuclear weapons from Japanese territory, expressing concerns about placing unilateral limits on the United States. The panel report is intended to contribute to a Japanese national security policy review later this year. Since 1971, Japan has subscribed to three “non-nuclear principles” of not possessing or producing nuclear weapons or introducing them into its territory. Although the report raised questions about maintaining the nonintroduction principle, it said that no changes were needed to the three principles “for the time being.”

In the past, the nonintroduction principle has come into conflict with the country’s defense cooperation with the United States as U.S. vessels carrying nuclear arms have made use of Japanese ports. The Japanese government released two reports in March on investigations into secret U.S.-Japanese agreements during the 1960s and ’70s allowing port calls by nuclear-armed U.S. vessels. Revelations on those agreements stirred controversy in Japan following a change in government last year.

Long-standing U.S. policy is neither to confirm nor to deny the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons aboard its vessels.

Panel member Takashi Shiraishi said during an Aug. 27 press conference that the report did not recommend a review of Japan’s three non-nuclear principles. “But at the same time, we didn’t think it wise to limits Japan’s future actions by setting a principle that Japan won’t need to review them in the future,” he said, stressing that Tokyo’s options should be left open.

However, during an Aug. 9 press conference marking the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that he would “like to consider enshrining the principles into law.”


EU Contributes to CTBT Verification Efforts

Meri Lugo

The EU Council has provided a contribution of 280,000 euros to strengthen nuclear test ban verification, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) announced July 27. The contribution is part of the EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The EU contribution will fund projects related to improving the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) auxiliary seismic station network, which provides data on a seismic event on request. Those stations supplement the data from the CTBTO primary network, which runs constantly and provides data in real time. More than 75 percent of the CTBTO’s total planned 337 seismic stations, intended to detect nuclear test explosions, have already been constructed and certified.

The funds also will strengthen verification measures, such as on-site inspections and noble-gas monitoring, and provide technical assistance to African, Caribbean, and Latin American countries to facilitate their full participation in the CTBT verification regime.

The CTBTO’s 2010 budget is approximately 92 million euros. The assessed annual contributions of EU member states comprise about 40 percent of the CTBTO’s total budget, and the recent contribution marks the largest-ever voluntary contribution by the European Union to the CTBTO.

In a statement reflecting on its contribution, the EU remarked, “A fully operational and credible CTBT verification regime will provide the international community with reliable, independent means to ensure that [the] norm [against nuclear testing] is respected.”


Bout to Be Extradited to U.S.

Valerie Pacer

A Thai appeals court ruled Aug. 20 that alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout should be extradited to the United States. Bout was arrested on March 5, 2008, after a joint sting operation between the United States and Thailand where Bout allegedly attempted to arrange a weapons deal with undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents, who were acting as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). (See ACT, April 2008.)

The United States, which had campaigned for the extradition, welcomed the move. In an Aug. 20 statement, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler said that “the prosecution of Viktor Bout is of utmost priority to the United States.” Citing UN sanctions imposed on Bout, Grindler said that “the criminal charges he faces are not solely an American concern.”

Russia had opposed extradition, and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the decision to extradite Bout surprising, disappointing, and highly questionable in light of the lower court ruling in August 2009 that Bout should be released. That court said FARC is a political movement rather than a terrorist organization.

In the original U.S. indictment, Bout was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. New charges unsealed earlier this year include conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and six counts of wire fraud.

In addition to the charges brought by the United States, Bout is included on UN travel ban and asset freeze lists, in part for violating Security Council Resolution 1343, which sought to end Liberian government support for Sierra Leonean rebels.


Posted: September 3, 2010