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S’pore wants Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty strengthened & updated

April 19, 2010
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Originally published at ChannelNewsAsia.com by S Ramesh

Singapore has expressed concern that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime is now under stress and remains weak in enforcement.

In a statement ahead of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said it is useful to reflect on where the world stands 40 years after the t treaty went into force.

On disarmament, Singapore said more efforts need to be put into the issues before achieving the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

In this regard, Singapore feels that the recent conclusion of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the US and Russia is a positive development.

However, the size of the global nuclear arsenal remains large as there are about 20,000 nuclear warheads in the world.

Many of them are still on trigger-alert.

On the important pillar of non-proliferation, MFA said that while the treaty has successfully limited the number of Nuclear Weapon States, the international community continues to face serious proliferation concerns.

In fact, the risk of proliferation had increased.

Singapore stressed that three key states, which are not part of the treaty, have or are strongly believed to have nuclear weapons. They are India, Pakistan and Israel.

Moreover, a country that is part of the treaty has been suspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

Singapore is also concerned that as interest in nuclear energy grows due to the rising costs of traditional fuel as well as the concerns over climate change, nuclear technology will continue to spread without checks.


These would include activities that could be used for a nuclear weapons programme.

Non-state actors, particularly terrorists groups, are believed to be keen on acquiring nuclear material and nuclear weapons to launch terrorist attacks.

Hence, the international community faces the dilemma of seeking to strengthen the non-proliferation regime while acknowledging the right of countries to pursue nuclear energy and technology for peaceful uses.

MFA stressed that the international community must come to an understanding that while Article Four of the treaty highlighted the right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology, this right carried with it responsibilities and obligations.

To achieve this, Singapore said Nuclear Weapons States should be committed to their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

Countries must also find a mechanism to encourage those with nuclear weapon capability which are outside the treaty to abide by the same international rules and safeguards and find a way to bring them in.

North Korea should be encouraged to return to the global non-proliferation regime.

To strengthen the non-proliferation regime, a more robust global export control regime to guard against the illicit trafficking of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems should be established.

Singapore said the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime was conceived in a different time and age to deal with very different challenges.

It is important that the treaty be brought up to date and further strengthened.

Singapore hopes that all could take the opportunity of the upcoming Review Conference to begin this process.

It said the process is necessary but will not be easy.

Singapore warned that it will be disastrous if the Review Conference ends up in shambles again. – CNA /ls#

Meanwhile, also in Singapore….

Singapore to start feasibility study into nuclear energy
Originally published at TodayOnline

As more countries seek to explore the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes, the international community faces a dilemma: How does it juggle a nuclear non-proliferation regime while acknowledging the right of countries pursuing nuclear energy and technology for peaceful uses?

There are still about 20,000 nuclear warheads in the world, many of them on trigger alert, Singapore noted in its statement at the International Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Conference in the Iranian capital of Tehran, which ended yesterday.

And even with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which has limited the number of nuclear weapons states (NWS), the world faces proliferation concerns.

For example, the NPT did not stop North Korea from acquiring and testing nuclear weapons, while NPT member Iran has been suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons ambitions.

Moreover, India, Pakistan and Israel, who have or are believed to be nuclear-armed, are not part of the NPT, representing “a lacuna in the NPT regime”.

As interest in nuclear energy grows as a result of rising costs in traditional fuel as well as the concerns over climate change, nuclear technology will continue to spread without checks,” the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in the statement. “These would include activities that could be used for a nuclear weapons programme (like) uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing.”

“Non-state actors, particularly, terrorists groups, are believed to be keen on acquiring nuclear material and nuclear weapons to launch terrorist attacks.”

Both NWS and non-NWS alike should adopt higher standards of nuclear safety and security to ensure that nuclear material and facilities under their control remain safe from theft or terrorist attack, urged the MFA, while export controls need to be tightened to prevent illicit trafficking of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.

A “multilateral fuel assurance mechanism” could also prevent further spread of nuclear know-how, while providing countries interested in pursuing nuclear energy and technology the means to do so.

Singapore, which has not ruled out nuclear energy, will start a feasibility study “which will entail a careful and rigorous examination of the technical, economic and safety aspects of nuclear energy”.

“This process is still at a preliminary stage, but we will enhance our cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and nuclear suppliers as our study progresses,” said the MFA.#

So is the inquiry for the NPT just a justification to start conducting this feasibility study? If you read both articles carefully, one quote was reused as a justification for the re-validation and strengthening of the NPT and also to justify this nuclear study!

Even while this study is at the “preliminary stage”, I think it’s time the MFA and other government agencies involved in nuclear talks give Singaporeans some answers! If this concerns us Singaporeans, given that increased energy needs are a direct/indirect result of our demand, then give us numbers… data… and talk to us about our options! I think a lot of people share my thoughts and concerns about this… so perhaps it’s time that we ask and demand answers to our questions!

Mel

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