'Peaceful pursuits hindered'


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003

By FARIDAH BEGUM AND SHARMILA THANGATHURAI

KUALA LUMPUR: The current fear of weapons of mass destruction being created by certain nations has impeded the advancement of nuclear power for “peaceful pursuits,” especially in the fields of medicine, agriculture and industries. 

To this end, transparency in reporting the export of nuclear ingredients, equipment and installation should be strengthened to allow developing countries to use nuclear power and technology for development. 

Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding, in expressing this concern, lamented on the over-control and over-caution by countries which restricted these exports. 

He said the issue was brought up at last month’s Non-Aligned Movement Summit here. 

“The movement emphasised that proliferation concerns are best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements,” he said when opening a three-day Regional Seminar for Asean States on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Strengthened Safeguards and Additional Protocol here yesterday. 

Law said it was agreed at the summit that non-proliferation control arrangements should be transparent and open to participation by all states, and should not impose restrictions on access to material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes which the developing countries require for their continued development. 

He said NAM heads of state had expressed their strong rejection of attempts by member states to use the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) technical co-operation “as a tool for political purposes in violation of the IAEA’s statute.” 

In response, the IAEA director of external relations and policy co-ordination Piet de Klerk said transparency in reporting the exports of nuclear materials and equipment were done under the Safeguard Agreements in the area of uranium as well as for other nuclear raw materials and reactors but not technology and downstream ingredients. 

“Although some countries report on a voluntary basis, it is the non-reporting that has unearthed the clandestine creations of weapons of mass destruction, of which some use nuclear energy,” he said. 

He added that this had contributed to difficulties faced by IAEA inspectors in verifying the presence of nuclear installations.  

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