UK leader, addressing UN debate, calls for ‘grand’ global nuclear bargain

23 September 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown today proposed a “grand global bargain” between nations that have nuclear weapons and nations that do not, telling the General Assembly that the world was facing a renewed threat of proliferation.

Addressing the annual high-level debate at the Assembly, Mr. Brown proposed that countries with nuclear weapons offer energy in exchange for other countries renouncing plans to acquire such weapons.

With the current number of nations with nuclear weapons believed to be nine, Mr. Brown said there was a “real and present danger” that more countries and even terrorists will acquire them.

“We are at a moment of danger when decades of preventing proliferation could be overturned by [a] damaging rise in proliferation,” he noted.

To counter this, the leader of the UK, a nuclear power, suggested a bargain, with the country helping non-nuclear States acquire what former United States president Dwight Eisenhower called “atoms for peace” in the form of civil nuclear energy.

“With others we will be prepared to sponsor a uranium bank outside these countries to help them access civil nuclear power,” Mr. Brown said.

But “let there be no ambiguity. Iran and North Korea must know that the world will be even tougher and we are ready to consider further sanctions,” he said, adding that the onus is on non-nuclear countries to prove they are not developing nuclear weapons.

For their part, countries with nuclear weapons must work towards reducing their stockpiles, as the United Nations-backed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) intends, the Prime Minister stated, with the UK is currently looking into cutting back the number of its own nuclear submarines from four to three.

Nuclear proliferation is one of five urgent challenges – the others being climate change, terrorism, poverty and shared prosperity – which he characterized as “epoch-making.”

The world is entering a critical six-month period “which may prove even more testing for international cooperation,” Mr. Brown told the dozens of heads of State and government assembled at UN Headquarters in New York.

“Once again we are at a point of no return,” he warned.

In spite of the “unprecedented unity that has defined the past year,” the Prime Minister warned that “we cannot be complacent.”


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