Viatcheslav Kantor, President of the Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, commented that, “Long-term experience shows that discussions and agreements in this arena help greatly to further understanding and cooperation among leading powers in matters of international security. However, to date, the treaty and regulatory framework for nuclear disarmament has disintegrated. We believe that the leading powers – U.S. and Russia – should make a positive change in this area.”
The first panel of the seminar was followed up by a press conference that addressed important issues relating to the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, various acute problems of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the increasing concern about international security of nuclear materiel. The one-day seminar is being held at the Sofitel Hotel in Rome.
In response to a question addressing the issue of Iran, Luxembourg Conference’s Mr. Alexei Arbatov said: “We must use a carrot and stick approach to the issue. Financial and economic sanctions must be set in place as well as positive guarantees in case Iran is ready to cooperate with the international community. If Iran obtains nuclear military capability, it could lead to a domino effect for the whole Middle East region.”
Professor Hans Blix, former Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, said: “Diplomatic efforts seem to be effective in finding a solution to the problems raised in the case of North Korea. It may be useful to learn from this experience for the Iranian issue. The Bush Administration says that it is keeping all options on the table. However, such allusions to military action may well be counterproductive. Economic pressures may be meaningful and, for instance, offering support for Iran to join the World Trade Organization may provide a positive incentive for Iran to meet the concerns of the world regarding the enrichment program that it is pursuing.”
Professor Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, said: “Iran does not have any nuclear weapons and all of its activities in this field are under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”). There are some issues that are not finalized yet, but alternatives to a diplomatic solution are very dangerous and unrealistic and they will create chaos which would be almost unstoppable.”
Arbatov added: “Nuclear weapons necessitate the production and availability of highly enriched unranium (“HEU”). HEU is what nuclear terrorists are looking for and there are over 1,500 tons of HEU currently in existence. Reducing the large stockpiles HEU could possibly kill two birds with one stone by de-enriching the HEU stockpiles and offering it for peaceful nuclear energy instead of new national enrichment plants.”
The Conference is focusing on the significantly increased dangers of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of rogue states and terrorist organizations. This continues to be the world’s primary threat to regional and global security. The Seminar, in tradition of the Luxembourg Forum meetings, will work out specific breakthrough proposals to counter these threats to civilization which will be forwarded to Heads of State and heads of the international security institutions.