Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are rightly called weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Designed to terrify as well as destroy, they have the potential to kill thousands and thousands of people in a single attack, and their effects may persist in the environment and in our bodies, in some cases indefinitely.
Many efforts have been made to free the world from the threat of these weapons and some progress has been made. Paradoxically, despite the end of the Cold War, the past decade has seen more setbacks than successes. States have failed to comply with their disarmament and non-proliferation commitments, and terrorist groups have emerged that recognize no restraints.
In September 2005, the United Nations World Summit was unable to agree on a single recommendation on disarmament and non-proliferation. It is time for all to wake up to the awesome reality that many of the old threats continue to hang over the world and that many new ones have emerged.
It is time for all governments to revive their cooperation and to breathe new life into the disarmament work of the United Nations. Efforts to eradicate poverty and to protect the global environment must be matched by a dismantling
of the world’s most destructive capabilities. The gearshift now needs to be moved from reverse to drive.
Biological and chemical weapons have been comprehensively outlawed through global conventions, but these need to be universally accepted and fully implemented. Nuclear weapons must also be outlawed. Before this aim is realized, there must be new initiatives to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and the threat posed by them. It is equally urgent to prevent proliferation and to take special measures to ensure that terrorists do not acquire any weapons of mass destruction.
WHY ACTION IS NECESSARY
Nuclear, biological and chemical arms are the most inhumane of all weapons. Designed to terrify as well as destroy, they can, in the hands of either states or non-state actors, cause destruction on a vastly greater scale than any conventional weapons, and their impact is far more indiscriminate and long-lasting.
So long as any state has such weapons – especially nuclear arms – others will want them. So long as any such weapons remain in any state’s arsenal, there is a high risk that they will one day be used, by design or accident. Any such use would be catastrophic.
Notwithstanding the end of the Cold War balance of terror, stocks of such weapons remain extraordinarily and alarmingly high: some 27,000 in the case of nuclear weapons, of which around 12,000 are still actively deployed.
Weapons of mass destruction cannot be uninvented. But they can be outlawed, as biological and chemical weapons already have been, and their use made unthinkable. Compliance, verification and enforcement rules can, with the requisite will, be effectively applied. And with that will, even the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is not beyond the world’s reach.
Over the past decade, there has been a serious, and dangerous, loss of momentum and direction in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. Treaty making and implementation have stalled and, as a new wave of proliferation has threatened, unilateral enforcement action has been increasingly advocated.
In 2005 there were two loud wake-up calls in the failure of the NPT Review Conference and in the inability of the World Summit to agree on a single line about any WMD issue. It is critical for those calls to be heeded now.
WHAT MUST BE DONE
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission makes many specific and detailed recommendations throughout its report. The most important of them are summarized below.
1. Agree on general principles of action.
Disarmament and non-proliferation are best pursued through a cooperative rule-based international order, applied and enforced through effective multilateral institutions, with the UN Security Council as the ultimate global authority.
There is an urgent need to revive meaningful negotiations, through all available intergovernmental mechanisms, on the three main objectives of reducing the danger of present arsenals, preventing proliferation, and outlawing all weapons of mass destruction once and for all.
States, individually and collectively, should consistently pursue policies designed to ensure that no state feels a need to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Governments and relevant intergovernmental organizations and non-government actors should commence preparations for a World Summit on disarmament, non-proliferation and terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction to generate new momentum for concerted international action.
2. Reduce the danger of present arsenals : no use by states – no access by terrorists.
Secure all weapons of mass destruction and all WMD-related material and equipment from theft or other acquisition by terrorists. Take nuclear weapons off high-alert status to reduce the risk of launching by error; make deep reductions in strategic nuclear weapons; place all non-strategic nuclear weapons in centralized storage; and withdraw all such weapons from foreign soil.
Prohibit the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, and phase out the production of highly enriched uranium.
Diminish the role of nuclear weapons by making no-first-use pledges, by giving assurances not to use them against non-nuclear-weapon states, and by not developing nuclear weapons for new tasks.
3. Prevent proliferation: no new weapon systems – no new possessors.
Prohibit any nuclear-weapon tests by bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force.
Revive the fundamental commitments of all NPT parties: the five nuclear-weapon states to negotiate towards nuclear disarmament and the non-nuclear-weapon states to refrain from developing nuclear weapons.
Recognize that countries that are not party to the NPT also have a duty to participate in the disarmament process.
Continue negotiations with Iran and North Korea to achieve their effective and verified rejection of the nuclear-weapon option, while assuring their security and acknowledging the right of all NPT parties to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Explore international arrangements for an assurance of supply of enriched uranium fuel, and for the disposal of spent fuel, to reduce incentives for national facilities and to diminish proliferation risks.
4. Work towards outlawing all weapons of mass destruction once and for all
Accept the principle that nuclear weapons should be outlawed, as are biological and chemical weapons, and explore the political, legal, technical and procedural options for achieving this within a reasonable time.
Complete the implementation of existing regional nuclear-weaponfree zones and work actively to establish zones free of WMD in other regions, particularly and most urgently in the Middle East. Achieve universal compliance with, and effective implementation of, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and speed up the destruction of chemical weapon stocks.
Achieve universal compliance with, and effective implementation of, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and improve cooperation between industry, scientists and governments to reinforce the ban on the development and production of biological weapons and to keep abreast of developments in biotechnology.
Prevent an arms race in space by prohibiting any stationing or use of weapons in outer space.
source : Weapons of Terror – Freeing The World Of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms (The Weapon of Mass Destruction Commission) 2006