Mohamed El Baradei: To stop nuclear proliferation, we must think globally

From a speech by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, delivered in Sydney, Australia

For centuries, security strategies were based on boundaries: the placement of cities and borders to take advantage of natural barriers; defences that relied on walls, trenches and armadas; and the use of ethnic and religious groupings to distinguish friend from foe. In the 20th century, the advent of aeroplanes, submarines, ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction undermined this approach by making borders increasingly porous, and enabling the remote delivery of destruction on a scale previously not envisioned.

But the forcing factor - the change that has altered the international security landscape so drastically that it has compelled a fundamental re-evaluation of security strategies - is globalisation. The global community has become interdependent, with the constant movement of people, ideas and goods. Many aspects of modern life - global warming, internet communication, the global marketplace, and yes, the rise in international terrorism -- point to the fact that the human race has walked through a door that cannot be re-entered.

Sixty years ago, on a day in August, the dawn of the nuclear age in Asia left nearly a quarter of a million people dead, with two devices considered crude by modern standards. For six decades, we have managed to avoid a repeat of that event, but remain haunted by the prospect. It is my firm belief that we cannot move out from under the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki until we are ready to make that move collectively, and build a system of security that transcends borders, that focuses on the equal value of every human life, and in which nuclear weapons have no place.

May it not ultimately be said of our civilisation that we created the inventions that led to our own demise.

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