Thursday, April 14, 2005
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U.N. approves global nuclear treaty
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Thursday, April 14, 2005 at 07:59 JST
NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly approved a global treaty Wednesday aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism by making it a crime for would-be terrorists to possess or threaten to use nuclear weapons or radioactive material.
A resolution adopted by the 191-member world body by consensus calls on all countries to sign and ratify the "International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism." The treaty will be opened for signatures on Sept 14 and must be ratified by 22 countries to come into force.
"By its action today, the General Assembly has shown that it can, when it has the political will, play an important role in the global fight again terrorism," U.S. deputy ambassador Stuart Holliday told delegates after the vote. "The nuclear terrorism convention, when it enters into force, will strengthen the international legal framework to combat terrorism."
Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Konuzin, whose country sponsored the resolution, hailed it's approval.
"It's the first time that an anti-terrorist convention has been developed on the basis of preventing — that is not after the fact but before the terrorist acts which are criminalized by this convention," he said.
The treaty makes it a crime for any person to possess radioactive material or a radioactive device with the intent to cause death or injury, or damage property or the environment. It would also be a crime to damage a nuclear facility.
Threatening to use radioactive material or devices — or unlawfully demanding nuclear material or other radioactive substances would also be a crime. Accomplices and organizers would also be covered by the convention.
Countries that are parties to the treaty would be required to make these acts criminal offenses under their national laws, "punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of these offenses."
Russia launched the campaign for a treaty to combat nuclear terrorism more than seven years ago, when Boris Yeltsin was president. But it was stymied for years because countries believed the draft convention was trying to define terrorism — an issue that has deeply divided the United Nations.
Diplomats said the roadblock was broken after the drafting committee's last formal meeting in November, when the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference decided the new treaty could focus on criminalizing specific actions related to nuclear terrorism as other anti-terrorism treaties have done. (Wire reports)