Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe
The Luxembourg Forum Conference Considers the Most Pressing International Security Issues
On June 4-5, 2012, Berlin hosted the anniversary conference of the Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe billed as Contemporary Problems of Nuclear Non-proliferation. The experts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation came to the capital of Germany from all over the world to consider the most pressing contemporary problems of international security.
The conference analyzed the ways to address the most important nuclear disarmament challenges faced by the global community today. The major issues for discussion included the current state and perspectives of nuclear arms reduction and limitation, the outlook for nuclear non-proliferation, and the role of the UN Security Council and the IAEA in promoting non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons. The experts discussed the efficiency of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
The conference discussed the regional issues of nuclear non-proliferation which may result in escalation in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as on the global scale.
The experts focused on the current state of and ways to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem, as well as on the paths to overcome the North Korean nuclear deadlock.
“Over the past five years the world has seen dramatic developments in many areas,” the Luxembourg Forum President Viatcheslav Kantor said at the opening of the conference. “The world has been shuddered by economic crises, military and political environment is characterised by complex turbulence, revolutionary processes in the Middle East and North Africa have significantly altered the political landscape beyond this region as well. All these factors have a direct impact on sustainability of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.”
Over the last five years, a certain progress has been made in resolving the issue of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
The execution in 2010 of the new Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms which came in force in 2011, marked the major breakthrough in this area. The Forum’s experts have emphasized the relevancy of this Treaty in the conference declarations and at workshops of the Luxembourg Forum. The Treaty put an end to the lengthy period of stagnation of the nuclear arms reduction processes and contributed as the major factor to resetting relations between the U.S., Europe and Russia.
In his written address to the participants of the Luxembourg Forum, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “Russia supports a constructive dialogue with all political forces and non-governmental movements encouraging further reduction of nuclear threat. We have been closely watching the activity of the Luxembourg Forum, which comprises many renowned statesmen and experts. We adhere to the integrated strategy proposing the reduction and limitation of nuclear arsenals while ensuring equal and indivisible security for all parties involved in the international relations, taking into account the combination of factors affecting the strategic stability.”
Five years ago the Luxembourg Forum recommended to start consultations with the UK, France and China on their participation in the acceptable format in reducing nuclear forces, as well as in transparency and confidence-building measures adopted between the U.S. and Russia. This recommendation was promoted by position of Russian, U.S. and European officials, in Russian and the U.S. academies of sciences, as well as in reputable international organizations. The experts proposed initiating such consultations, primarily with the UK and France, to encourage them to adopt some of the transparency measures related to their nuclear capacity, existing between Russia and the U.S. under the new START Treaty.
As far as the situation around the development of the Iranian nuclear crisis is concerned, Kantor concluded that it had considerably aggravated over the past five years. “According to the IAEA’s February records, Iran tripled its enriched uranium output. Iran has enriched 110 kilograms of uranium to 20% by now,” he said.
“The negotiations completed late in May between P5+1 and Iran again failed to resolve the crisis,” Kantor added. “The apparent Iran’s “flexibility” is not due to the sanctions under the UN Security Council resolutions, but rather explained by considerably tougher sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European states.”
Speaking at the conference opening, former Russian Foreign Minister and President of the Russian International Affairs Council Igor Ivanov emphasized that “[t]oday the controllability level in the global policy tends to decrease, while the international relations are becoming more out-of-balance. It is very difficult to forecast long and short-term consequences of the Arab Spring in the Middle East. The humanity is facing the unprecedented security challenges which we are still very poorly prepared for.”
“The Luxembourg Forum has a special place among international non-governmental organizations, deeply involved in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Ivanov added. “The Forum brought together world’s leading experts on nuclear arms and means of delivery non-proliferation and became an authoritative platform to address the key nuclear security issues. Its opinion is respected and proposals are in demand.”
Speaking about obstacles to cooperation between Russia and the United States on the ballistic missile defence, Viatcheslav Kantor emphasized that the Forum’s experts are optimistic about prospects to reach compromise based on the recent developments, representing variants of the European missile defence shield architecture and confidence-building measures which may be approved by leadership of Russia, the U.S. and NATO. According to Kantor this might open a door to close cooperation in this area.
The Berlin conference of the Luxembourg Forum was attended by former United States Secretary of Defense William Perry, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nikolay Laverov, former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Federal Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control at the German Federal Foreign Office Rolf Nikel, President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala, Director of the East-West Center at the University of Maryland, Academician of the Russian Academy of Science Roald Sagdeev and other renowned experts and statesmen.
The conference marked five years since the Forum founding in 2007. Since its inception, the Luxembourg Forum has held 14 conferences, seminars and workshops in Washington, Moscow, Luxembourg, Rome, Vienna, Geneva and Stockholm. As the outcome, the Berlin conference will circulate to leaders of world powers and principal international organizations (the UN, IAEA, NATO, CSTO, OSCE and others) specific proposals on resolution of the most pressing issues of the nuclear security. Such documents are regularly prepared by the Luxembourg Forum’s experts following each public event. Most of the addressees have taken into consideration the recommendations contained in these documents, which is proved by their replies.
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The International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe was established pursuant to a decision of the International Conference on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, held in Luxembourg on May 24-25, 2007. The Forum’s Advisory Council includes 57 most reputable and world-renowned experts from 14 states.
The Forum is one of the most representative non-governmental organizations uniting leading world experts on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, arms reduction and limitation. The Forum is headed by its President, Viatcheslav Kantor, PhD. The principal guiding bodies of the Forum are the International Advisory Council (IAC) and the Supervisory Council (SC).
The Forum’s priorities are to analyze threats imposed by nuclear arms proliferation and elaborate actual proposals and recommendations on the ways to further reduce nuclear arms, strengthen nuclear and missile non-proliferation regime, counteract acquisition of nuclear weapons and technologies by unstable regimes and terroristic organizations, resolve the Iranian and North Korean nuclear crises. Reduction of nuclear threats is closely connected to conventional arms balance, development of precision weapons and perspectives of cooperation between states on ballistic missile defence.