Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gulf Crisis Shadows Review of Treaty {HLNUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gulf Crisis Shadows Review of Treaty {HLNUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

Article excerpt

THE review conference of the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, which opens in Geneva today, presents a mixed picture.

Significant progress in arms control negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union, plus growing interest in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) among both nuclear and nonnuclear countries, give the meeting a bright hue.

On the other hand, the Gulf crisis and edginess over "problem states," both within and outside the Middle East, provide considerably darker tones.

"There are numerous points to cite that say the NPT is going from strength to strength," says John Simpson, professor of international relations at Southampton University in Britain and an NPT specialist. "But at the same time there are significant areas of concern," he adds, principally in the third world.

Several countries that have have not signed the NPT, such as Israel, India, and Pakistan, are considered either to possess or to be developing nuclear weapons. Other nations within the treaty, including Iraq, Libya, and North Korea, are also believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons programs.

Still, the meeting takes place at a time of growing international acceptance of the principle of nuclear weapons nonproliferation.

Nuclear powers China and France, which have never signed the treaty, will participate for the first time as observers. The number of treaty adherents has doubled, from less than 70 nations when the treaty took effect in 1970, to 140 today. South Africa, once considered a "problem state" developing nuclear weapons, could actually become a treaty member during the review conference.

The treaty review, which occurs every five years, was expected to take place in relative obscurity. But the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has thrown an international spotlight on the month-long conference. …

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