Threats from non-state users of WMDs discussed in UN Security Council
The United Nations Security Council held an open debate today on the threat to international security posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), especially if they should pass through black markets and fall into private hands.
In the debate that attracted about 50 speakers, Ambassador James Cunningham of the United States said a draft resolution to be adopted in the coming days responded to the growing threat that the proliferation of WMDs and the means to deliver them posed to global security.
The 15 April draft of the text, a work in progress, would ask Member States to take precautions, review domestic legislation and adopt new legislation to keep the means of making WMDs away from private sectors, or non-state actors.
If non-state actors were able to get such weapons, they could blackmail and threaten entire regions, Mr. Cunningham said. Organizations, such as al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, had not hidden their desire to acquire WMDs. If such groups got them, they could bring destruction and suffering on an unimaginable scale.
Ambassador Gennady Gatilov of the Russian Federation said his government was one of the initiators of the draft resolution because the problem of the proliferation of WMDs was emerging as one of the primary threats to international peace and security.
Terrorists would stop at nothing to acquire the components for WMDs. In a previous resolution, the Council had highlighted the close relationship between international terrorism, organized crime and illegal trafficking in chemical, biological and other materials and had begun coordinating international efforts to strengthen a global response, he said.
Mr. Gatilov supported the establishment of a Security Council committee to monitor implementation of the eventual resolution.
Ambassador Wan Guangya of China, noting that his proposals were already reflected in the latest draft, said the Council meeting would help improve the text for a security environment in which it was vital to strengthen international cooperation and improve the non-proliferation regime to respond effectively to threats of terrorism.
To ensure the success of non-proliferation efforts, the text would have to recognize the legitimate right of countries to use such technologies for peaceful purposes, he said.
The world was now in an "era of wholesale terrorism," when the most dangerous technology was becoming available, said Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France. The international community could not remain passive.
France supported inserting references to disarmament obligations in the preamble of the text and enhancing the monitoring mechanism, he said.
Bringing in such issues as disarmament would risk deadlock and treading on the toes of other international disarmament bodies, said Ambassador Adam Thomson of the United Kingdom.
The text promoted the strengthening of multilateral treaties and did not rule out future arrangements to deal with any gaps in the international framework. It was about a cooperative approach to tackling non-state actors, he added.