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Demonstrate commitment to give up nuclear weapons: ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei, Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Image Credit: IAEA

NEW DELHI (PTI): Cautioning that 27,000 nuclear warheads still existed, IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei Wednesday asked weapons states to demonstrate their "irreversible commitment" to free the world from such weapons.

"The weapons states can greatly contribute to the legitimacy of the non-proliferation regime and gain the moral authority to call on the rest of the world to curb the proliferation of these inhumane weapons," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General said nuclear disarmament was, after a long hiatus; finally back on the international agenda as Russia and the US have made a commitment to cut their nuclear arsenals.

"There is a real prospect of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty coming into force. And the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has agreed to negotiate a treaty that would outlaw the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons," said ElBaradei, who was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.

He pointed out that the global military spending was almost 1.5 trillion dollars last year, which was 12 times the developed world spent on official development assistance to the poor.

"The budget for all UN peacekeeping operations in the current year is about seven billion dollars. In other words, the world spends 200 times more on weapons of war than on keeping the peace," he said. .

The IAEA chief hoped that India, which called for elimination of nuclear weapons as far back as in 1948, would remain a powerful voice campaigning for a world free from nuclear weapons.

He said India's economic metamorphosis has been "dazzling" and said that New Delhi has "become a beacon of hope to the developing world".

ElBaradei said the ending of restrictions on nuclear trade would enable India meet its energy needs, combat climate change and secure energy independence.

"I trust that India will spare no effort in practising and advocating the highest standards of nuclear safety and security," he said.

ElBaradei pitched for a new global system of collective security that entails an overhaul of the US system and of the Security Council.

"A new system in which no country feels the need to rely on nuclear weapons or other inhuman weapons for its security.

A new system with effective global mechanisms for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacemaking.

"A new system in which security is not perceived as a zero sum game or based on domination or balance of power, but rather an equitable and inclusive system that enables all of us to live together free from fear and from want," he added.

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