US warns China on nuclear aid to Iran
The US-China clash added unexpected friction to the start of the conference which was already promising to be highly charged, with the US and the other nuclear powers pushing for an indefinite, unconditional extension of the NPT and some of the non-aligned nations looking to attach conditions, including swifter progress towards nuclear disarmament.
Even as the conference began, there was still no agreement on the rules for voting on textension, with some non-aligned states pressing for a secret ballot. If the issue is not resolved quickly, some nations could even press for adjournment
Opening the debate, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, joined in urging the nuclear states to move more quickly towards disarmament and nuclear-free status. "The most safe, sure and swift way to deal with the threat of nuclear arms is to do away with them in every regard. This should be our vision of the future . . . reduction and destruction of all nuclear weapons and the means to make them should be humanity's great common cause".
Mr Christopher stressed the continuing value of the NPT, terming it the "one of the most important treaties of all time". Acknowledging the concerns of the non-aligned countries, he added: "The purpose of the NPT is to preserve the security of all, not the nuclear weapons monopoly of a few. Nuclear weapons states have committed themselves to purse negotiations for nuclear disarmament, which remains our ultimate goal".
The disputed deal between Iran and China centres on the supply of two 300-megawatt pressurised water reactors and Chinese nuclear know-how. A similar transaction was announced between Iran and Russia in January, drawing strong US objections. While the deal might not violate international rules, because the reactors would be subject to international inspection, this had not calmed concern in Washington. "We feel that no nation ought to go forward with nuclear cooperation with Iran", Mr Christopher said. "This is not to single out China. This is a position we have taken with respect to major countries in the world".
Mr Qichen was adamant that China was not transgressing the rules: "We respect the view of the US, but what we have done is consistent with international practice."
Washington has been alarmed over Tehran's possible nuclear ambitions since Israel provided information last autumn suggesting that the Iran was stepping up efforts to purchase equipment for the manufacture of nuclear arms. The report, confirmed by the CIA, said Iran had gone on a nuclear shopping spree in Germany and Switzerland. It is not the first time the nuclear issue has clouded Sino-American relations. China supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan despite US objections.
At the conference, which is likely to last four weeks, the disputes over voting procedures are only a symptom of the underlying tensions between the nuclear haves and have-nots. By hoping to attach conditions to the NPT's renewals, the non-aligned states are seeking to maintain pressure on the nuclear states to continue progress towards complete disarmament as required in Article VI of the treaty.
As an alternative to the indefinite extension of the treaty, these countries, led by Venezuela, Mexico and Indonesia, may propose renewing it for a fixed period or periods. At the end of those periods, pressure could again be applied to the nuclear states finally to relinquish their weapons.
In seeking the right to take the final vote in secret, these states are apparently hoping to avoid being identified as going against America's will with the risk that that might carry of attracting reprisals such as downgraded diplomatic links or reduced aid.
Leading article, page 14
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportThe coach of Chalfont St Peter's under-10s football team was relieved of his duties after he sent an email to parents that said: 'I am only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
North Korea: Kim Jong Un 'sacks powerful uncle and has his aides executed'
What made Charles Saatchi grab my throat, by Nigella Lawson - as she accuses him of threatening to 'destroy' her with drug claims
Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
Tom Daley's 'boyfriend' revealed to be screenwriter Dustin Lance Black
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 UK chef creates world's most expensive ready meal - a fish pie costing £314
- 4 Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 5 I’m sure Kate Moss doesn't care about posing for Playboy. But I do
£50000 - £70000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: SQL 2008 R2/2012 Deve...
£38000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Creative Audit Se...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, P...