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ASEAN Urges Nuclear Powers To Back Treaty

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo warned of a new arms race and the increasing danger of peaceful nuclear technology being diverted for military purposes.
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Jul 29, 2007
Southeast Asian nations on Sunday urged the world's nuclear powers to sign on to a regional treaty aimed at keeping their corner of the world free of atomic weapons. Ahead of the Asian security summit, the 10-country Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said the five nuclear powers that are permanent UN Security Council members should sign a protocol to the treaty. The call came as ASEAN approved a plan to strengthen safeguards against proliferation as part of its review of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone treaty, 10 years after it came into force.

"The threats of nuclear weapons within and outside the region remain real," said Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, whose country is the outgoing chair of the ASEAN bloc.

The threat is coming from an increase in the number of countries possessing the atom bomb and "more alarmingly from the rise of non-state actors who might gain access to nuclear materials," he said.

Under the treaty, ASEAN members may not develop or test nuclear weapons and pledge not to allow the storage or transport within their territories of those weapons.

But diplomats admit that with some ASEAN members allowing warships from countries such as the United States to berth in their territories, there has been concern it would be difficult to determine whether any vessel is nuclear armed.

US naval ships also routinely pass through busy Southeast Asian shipping lanes, but Washington has refused to confirm whether its ships have nuclear weapons aboard.

Romulo warned of a new arms race and the increasing danger of peaceful nuclear technology being diverted for military purposes.

"With our world's insatiable hunger for energy, nuclear power has regained attention as an alternative energy source, increasing apprehension over the spread of fissile materials," he said.

"As we move the process of community building forward, it has become even more imperative for us to strengthen the mechanism that guarantee the peace, security, stability and prosperity of our region."

Indonesia and Vietnam, both ASEAN members, are considering building nuclear power plants.

All five nations that hold permanent seats on the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- are nuclear powers.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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German Opposition To French-Libyan Nuclear Deal Unabated
Berlin (AFP) Jul 30, 2007
German opposition mounted Saturday to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's new venture on the world stage in agreeing to build a nuclear reactor in Libya, despite efforts by Paris to reassure Berlin. The French government on Friday had sought to allay German fears of "recklessness" by assuring Berlin that all guarantees had been taken with regard to nuclear non-proliferation. The French-Libyan accord, which envisions building a nuclear reactor for a water desalination plant, is "a bitter pill for the EU," said Ruprecht Polenz, conservative head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, in the newspaper Tagesspiegel am Sonntag.

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