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Former UN Weapons Inspector Calls for Fewer Nukes


Former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix is urging the United States and Russia to take the lead in reducing nuclear weapons. Blix is in Rome to present to Pope Benedict XVI a report on weapons of mass destruction.

Hans Blix arrived in Rome to present a report titled Weapons of Terror to Pope Benedict and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Prepared by a 14-member independent international commission that is chaired by Blix, the report offers proposals on how the world could be freed of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Addressing reporters, Blix said global efforts to achieve arms limitation and disarmament have stagnated. He added that an estimated 27-thousand nuclear warheads exist in the world today.

"Many of them are on hair-trigger alert, that is to say, they can go off like that, by mistake, by misunderstanding," he said.

The commission is also calling for a ban on the production of enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes. While a treaty has been proposed to do this, Blix said verification of the treaty would be of utmost importance.

The United States, Russia, China and EU nations Britain, France and Germany have been leading the push to get Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, that could be used to build nuclear weapons. Blix praised the offer of civil nuclear cooperation made by the major powers to Tehran to resolve the situation.

Blix also spoke of his concern about the militarization of space. He said the Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967, prohibits any stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space, but does not talk of other weapons.

He said about $20 billion is being spent every year to prepare for conflicts in space, how countries can defend their satellites and attack others.

"It is sort of funny that we sit here on earth and we try to increase our communications and at the same time we are preparing for a war in space," he added. "If there were to be one, or even if there were to be an accident by some weapons station out there going off, you would have debris and debris in space would be absolutely catastrophic."

Many countries, Blix added, have military satellites and spy satellites in space. He said the United States is one country that is far ahead of others and again should take the initiative to end this situation.

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