News / USA

Iran, North Korea to Dominate Nuclear Non-Proliferation Talks

U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman talks to the media in this file photo, at the government building in Skopje, Macedonia, February 2011. U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman talks to the media in this file photo, at the government building in Skopje, Macedonia, February 2011.
x
U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman talks to the media in this file photo, at the government building in Skopje, Macedonia, February 2011.
U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman talks to the media in this file photo, at the government building in Skopje, Macedonia, February 2011.
Lisa Schlein
Controversial nuclear programs being pursued by Iran and North Korea are expected to dominate the agenda of global nuclear talks that have begun at the United Nations in Geneva. Over the next two weeks, representatives of 190 nations that are members of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] will meet to prepare for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

These preparatory talks are taking place in a charged atmosphere. The NPT aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. But the rogue actions of Iran and North Korea are setting many member states on edge.

The head of the U.S. delegation says the increasingly bellicose rhetoric of North Korea and Iran's continued defiance of its obligations under the NPT are major challenges.

Thomas Countryman, who is U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, said North Korea has exploded a third nuclear device, and Iran has long deceived the International Atomic Energy Agency and international community regarding its nuclear enrichment program.

“The actions of Iran and North Korea should concern every member of this conference. It is clear that if Iran succeeds in the project of constructing nuclear weapons then it is not only the Helsinki meeting that becomes irrelevant, but it is in fact the entire credibility of this treaty. The possession of such weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region,” said Countryman.

A proposed international conference to establish a nuclear free zone was supposed to take place in Helsinki last December, but failed to materialize. Iran said it would attend such a conference. But Israel, which neither denies nor confirms that it possesses nuclear weapons, indicated it would not attend.

Israel has not joined the NPT. Iran, which is a member, said it is not in breach of the treaty. It says it is enriching uranium as part of a peaceful nuclear energy program, which is allowed under the treaty.  It says it is not interested in acquiring nuclear weapons.  

The United States, Israel, the European Union and other allies are suspicious of this claim, however, and fear Teheran is intent on building an atomic bomb.

Countryman warns that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, this will open the way for more proliferation of such weapons than has ever been seen.

"If you consider that Iran’s rhetoric prior to its first nuclear explosion is just as warlike as North Korea’s rhetoric after three nuclear explosions, you ought to be concerned about where continued non-adherence by Iran will bring the region and bring the world,” he said.

North Korea became a party to the NPT in 1985 and announced it was withdrawing from the treaty in 2003. Countryman said North Korea began acquiring nuclear weapons technologies while still a member of the treaty. The case of North Korea, he said, clearly shows the treaty can be abused by states that say they have withdrawn.

Countryman said there must be consequences for such action. He said he expects this issue to be discussed during the 2015 Review Conference and hopes this will be one of the areas where the treaty can be strengthened.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Charles Holley from: Paris
April 23, 2013 2:08 AM
Why does the only country who has murdered thousands of innocent people with nuclear bombs think they can tell other countries not to develop nuclear technology?
Why does the US not allow inspectors to visit the site of its latest nuclear test?
Why does the United State of Israel not sign the NPT?
Why does the US feel compelled to play war games at the DPRK border, instead of in the southern end of Korea?
Why does the US continue to believe it has any credibility left?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs