Mon, Jul 09, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Gorbachev calls for nuclear reductions

PUGWASH CONFERENCE Delegates at the conference plan to produce a joint letter to governments around the world, pressing their case for dismantling nuclear arsenals

AP , PUGWASH, CANADA

Mikhail Gorbachev told scientists and world leaders that more work is needed in the fight against a nuclear arms race during an international conference on Saturday.

The last leader of the Soviet Union issued a statement on Saturday to the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs saying that discussions like the ones being held at this assembly of world leaders and scientists is a good start.

"It is good to know that the [conference] is an ongoing, vibrant project that continues to bring together concerned scientists who fully understand the responsibility to humankind," Gorbachev said in a written statement translated into English.

Gorbachev did not attend the conference.

Experts from around the world first met in the small community of Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1957 when a local-born philanthropist suggested his summer home would serve as a quiet and private place to discuss the threat of nuclear arms during the Cold War.

Hundreds of meetings have since taken place throughout the world, and the so-called Pugwash movement was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.

The latest conference, which was to end yesterday, attracted two dozen international delegates including Tadatoshi Akiba, the mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, where a nuclear bomb was detonated, one of only two ever used as a weapon.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire and Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald, along with Mayor Akiba, were expected to address delegates on Saturday night.

Gorbachev negotiated an arms-reduction treaty with US president Ronald Reagan in 1987.

A 1991 treaty called for reduction of long-range US and Russian nuclear missiles by about one-third, or to a maximum of 6,000 deployed strategic warheads, apiece. It is due to expire in December 2009.

The US and Russia pledged earlier this month to reduce their stockpiles of long-range nuclear weapons to the "lowest possible level," although they have not yet agreed on specific numbers.

"[We need to] build an intellectual foundation for agreements that would dramatically cut the arsenals of nuclear weapons on their way to their elimination and prevent an arms race in space," read Gorbachev's statement.

"We need your brainpower not just to analyze the problem, but to find solutions."

While many delegates say the nature of a nuclear threat has changed since the Cold War, they agree that the roughly 27,000 nuclear warheads that remain intact around the world should not be ignored.

Thousands of the weapons can be launched within half an hour. Though most belong to the US and Russia, countries including Israel, North Korea and possibly Iran are developing their own.

Those attending the conference plan to produce a letter to governments around the world, pressing their case to dismantle nuclear arsenals.

This story has been viewed 1543 times.
TOP top