A Challenge of Our Time
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
International terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction represent a most urgent threat.
Countering these threats must be accorded the highest priority.
The Nordic-Baltic region is located outside the main zones of conflict. Yet, international terrorism is a global challenge.
September 11 and subsequent terrorist attacks around the world demonstrate that terrorists can strike anywhere at any time. Their aim is to spread the greatest amount of death and destruction. We can only imagine the impact of terrorists getting hold of weapons of mass destruction. Our efforts to halt the spread of such weapons and their means of delivery have taken on a new urgency.
A growing number of politically unstable states in possession of these deadly weapons gives an increased risk that such weapons may end up in the hands of nonstate actors. More states with such weapons increase the vulnerability to sabotage, leakage and accidents that may have long-term consequences on environmental and public safety.
Developments in North Korea give particular cause for concern. The announcement to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a key challenge to the authority and integrity of the treaty that for decades has been the cornerstone of collective security. The norms set by the nonproliferation treaty are more important than ever.
We - the parliamentarians of the Nordic and Baltic countries - call on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to reverse its course of action, to comply with her obligations under the nonproliferation treaty and to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Only in international cooperation - and only by employing the whole range of diplomatic, political, economic and legal instruments - can we succeed in our efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The decision by Iran to accept the request by the international community and cooperate fully with the IAEA is a victory for diplomacy.
Disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation measures are crucial to our efforts of halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We need to strengthen the international and multilateral instruments in this field. We need to ensure strict compliance. We must take every measure to safeguard material that may be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
For several decades, the Nordic-Baltic region was traversed by the Iron Curtain. The world's largest concentration of nuclear weapons was a stone's throw away on the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia. Left to this day is a dangerous legacy of abandoned nuclear reactors, most of them inside decommissioned, nuclear-powered submarines. Terrorists combining conventional explosive devices with stolen radioactive material to construct a "dirty bomb" - which is a real threat also to U.S. cities, including Washington - is a real and frightening scenario. Such a bomb may, in addition to causing material and human devastation, contaminate large areas of valuable resources.
The secure handling and storage of nuclear waste and material in northwest Russia is a matter of global concern. It requires concerted international efforts.
We have moved beyond the stereotypes of the Cold War confrontation between East and West. The Russian Federation works closely with the United States, NATO and the European Union. Russia is a contributing partner in a web of regional and subregional organizations in the Nordic and Baltic region. The Barents Sea Cooperation, the Nordic Council and Arctic Cooperation, the Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation, as well as the EU Northern Dimension initiative, are focal points in our mutual efforts. …