Skip to main content

Terror attacks underscore need for nuclear disarmament, UN official says

Terror attacks underscore need for nuclear disarmament, UN official says

Jayantha Dhanapala
The terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September underscore the need to cut the world's arsenal of nuclear weapons, according to a top United Nations disarmament official.

"We need to be aware of the fact that this situation could have been much worse than it has been - consider for example if weapons of mass destruction were used by these terrorists," said Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala in response to questions from journalists during a just recorded World Chronicle television programme. Produced by UN TV, the 30-minute roundtable show will be distributed to broadcasters next week.

"We need to eliminate weapons of mass destruction because they could fall into the hands of terrorists," Mr. Dhanapala said. "We don't want to give terrorists more tools than they have at the moment."

The Under-Secretary-General also stressed the importance of international anti-terrorism treaties, which "set norms, and give us - civilized society - the moral right to act in the name of those laws."

Concerning a possible response to the devastating terror attacks, Mr. Dhanapala noted that the UN Charter did not rule out the use of force. "We're not talking about an idealistic, utopian world where there are no weapons," he said of the Charter's vision, noting that Article 51 covers the right of countries to defend themselves, while Chapter VII deals with the right of defence in the collective interest of international peace and security. "Both of those obviously require weapons to be used."

"Clearly, this is a matter which the Security Council ideally should look at," he stressed. "If you can identify the person or persons responsible for this dastardly act of terrorism, then there will be opportunities for action to be taken."