Interview: More efforts needed in nuclear disarmament: SIPRI Senior Advisor Salander

14:06, April 11, 2010      

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More efforts are needed in nuclear disarmament and the most important reduction should be in tactic nuclear weapons on the battle field said Henrik Salander, senior advisor of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"It's a good treaty, it is a step in the right direction definitely, but in itself, it is not a big step," commented Salander on the signing of the new START treaty between the U.S. and Russia in Prague on Thursday.


Salander said a reduction about 30 percent of the weapons means even after seven years, according to the treaty, there will still be 1500 strategic weapons on each side and in fact, whereas a number of weapons including tactic nuclear weapons and thousands of weapons in storage will still be there. Thus it was not a very dramatic or sufficient step in the new round of U.S. and Russian nuclear disarmament.

"I would say that the most important would be to take the tactical nuclear weapons, the smaller weapons, non-strategic, not between continents but on the battle field into the equation," said Salander who was the former Swedish Ambassador to the UN Disarmament. He said negotiations should be done on stored weapons too.


Salander said the disarmament process won't be smooth because after the implementation of the new treaty, others will have to do that too.

"The biggest challenge is that the nuclear is still perceived necessary for them to keep nuclear weapons for their security, which I think is a false argument. They will be more secure without nuclear weapons. But governments still think they are more secure with nuclear weapons, some of them and that is the biggest obstacle towards the nuclear free world," Salander noted.

He said the obstacles also lie on the verification of the nuclear weapons and solving regional crisis such as that in the Middle East, the subcontinent with India and Pakistan.

"Those crises must also be solved before we can get rid of all nuclear weapons. But the trend is good and many non-governmental organizations and even governments will soon start demanding a convention prohibiting nuclear weapons, like biological and chemical weapons. So things are happening and the trend is going on the right direction," Salander added.


Salander said the new treaty should be combined with a promise of not making new weapons. The current treaty didn't address that.

"So the next step will be promises of not building new weapons and not modernizing existing arsenals," Salander said, adding that it will be a logical complement to the draw down of the number of the strategic weapons.

Then the next step should be the test ban treaty to be in place. That has been signed but not enforced yet, and finally a treaty on prohibition of making new materials for nuclear weapons, plutonium and uranium. Those things together will be good steps pointing to the direction of the nuclear weapons free world, said he.

SIPRI, established in 1966, is an independent international institute focusing on international security, arms control and disarmament.



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