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UN urges nations to sign treaty on nuclear terror

Written by: Staff

United Nations, June 19: Senior UN official Larry Johnson has urged all member nations to become a party to a new international treaty that aims to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism, bring perpetrators to justice and promote cooperation among member states.

He also called them for more vigilance and greater cooperation in the fight against such terrorism.

''Advances in technology continue to outpace the efforts undertaken to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction,'' Mr Johnson, whose official designation is Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, said at a panel discussion in which nuclear terror experts took part. The meeting was held yesterday at UN headquarters in New York.

He said, ''There is an urgent need to enhance international cooperation between states for devising and adopting effective and practical measures for the prevention of acts of terrorism and for the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators.'' The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, as the treaty is officially known, enters into force on July 7, almost two years since it was adopted by the United Nations, after Bangladesh earlier this month became the 22nd country to ratify or accede to it.

Originally proposed by Russia, the treaty was adopted on April 13, 2005. It outlaws specific and concrete acts of nuclear terrorism. It is intended to protect against attacks on a range of targets, including nuclear power plants and reactors. It is also applicable to threats and attempts to commit such crimes.

The treaty, signed by 115 countries so far, promotes cooperation among countries through the sharing of information and the providing of assistance for investigations and extraditions.

Mr Johnson stressed international terrorism remains an issue for all nations -- whether rich or poor, large or small -- and he reminded nations that ''terrorists must never be allowed to create a pretext in order to justify their actions.'' Walter Gehr, project coordinator in the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told the panel that it was not enough to become a party to the new treaty and other international instruments.

''States must be willing to properly implement the provisions in their national legislation,'' he said.

Though India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it initialled the Convention as New Delhi is against spread of nuclear weapons and especially it is vehemently opposed to terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons.

Earlier, UN chief Ban Ki-moon welcomed the treaty.

''Mr Ban congratulates the states that have already ratified or acceded to the Convention for making it possible for it to enter into force with such speed,'' a spokeswoman for the UN chief said in a statement.

The UN chief added, ''Nuclear terror is one of the most serious threats of our time. Even one such attack could inflict mass casualties and create immense suffering and unwanted change in the world forever. This prospect should compel all of us to prevent such a catastrophe.''


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