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Blix Calls for International Treaty to Ban Production of WMDs - 2004-06-30


Former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix wants the world's nuclear powers and other countries to adopt a treaty to ban the production of weapons-grade nuclear material and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Blix is chairing a meeting of the 15-nation WMD Commission in Vienna.

Hans Blix says the creation of regional and global security structures would reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs.

"But there's also a very widespread and strong feeling on my commission that one must move on with a treaty that will prohibit all states involved from producing highly enriched uranium or plutonium, both substances that can be used in nuclear weapons," he said. "This does not affect the production of low-enriched uranium which is necessary for nuclear power."

He suggested earlier the weapons inspection team he headed in Iraq could be made a permanent body working under the U.N. Security Council.

Mr. Blix has just concluded a day of talks with officials from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency involved in verifying Iran's nuclear activities. He says the international concern about Iran's uranium enrichment program is justified.

But Mr. Blix says Tehran's security fears also must be understood. He says Iran knows Israel has nuclear weapons and is aware that Iraq has the know-how to build weapons of mass destruction.

The former U.N inspector says North Korea, too, needs security assurances that its borders will not be attacked. He says offering development aid to North Korea may be one way to persuade Pyongyang to stop its nuclear program.

"But the idea came up here that this should be put into a framework of development. They have an economic system that is hopeless and that does not support the needs of the population there and if the outside world were to provide food and energy then it should be put into a package that could develop the country into a better situation than they are in today," he said.

Mr. Blix says the next full session of the commission, which was set up last year, is planned in November in Vancouver. The commission will present its final report to the U.N secretary-general in early 2006.

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