Nuclear weapons are the greatest danger to the world, with the slow pace of dismantling Russia's arsenal of particular concern as terrorists seek out nuclear material, experts said here Tuesday.
"The gravest danger in the world today is the threat of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction," said former US senator Sam Nunn, who heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative set up in 2001 by governments and international groups.
Faced with the threat, "our responses are changing very slowly - far too slowly," Nunn told a conference in Tokyo.
He said the failure to secure nuclear materials would make it easier for a group of terrorists or a non-nuclear state to acquire nuclear weapons.
The meeting here was held to mark three years after the Group of Eight major industrialized nations pledged at a summit in Kananaskis, Canada some 20 billion dollars to dismantle nuclear arsenals from the Cold War.
But experts warned that only a small fraction of the pledged money has been used.
Post-Soviet Russia has a complicated political system that "is slow in ratifying the implementation of programs," said Robert Einhorn, senior advisor of the US think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Russia said the problem was money.
"It is impossible for Russia to process (radioactive wastes) on its own," said Sergei Antipov, deputy director of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency. "We need to search for more financial resources from the international community."
Issei Nomura, Tokyo's ambassador to Russia, said the risks were real for Japan as in 1993 the Russian navy dumped low-level radioactive waste from submarines into the Sea of Japan.
The Japanese fear "the environment around them is vulnerable to nuclear-related activities in neighboring countries," Nomura said.
The Japanese daily the Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday that North Korea acquired 150 tons of aluminium piping from Russia to use in its covert uranium-based nuclear weapons program.
Japanese Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Katsuyuki Kawai said Tokyo still needed to be on guard for Russian nuclear accidents.
"Out of roughly 30 decommissioned nuclear submarines remaining in far eastern Russia, only the US and Japan has so far cooperated with Russia in dismantling them, and the pace of dismantling is slower compared to that in northwestern part of Russia," he said.
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Outside View: Who Needs The NPT?
Moscow, (UPI) June 6, 2005
The Seventh Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons all but said this important institution of global politics ineffective.
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