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On US Loose Nukes, S. Korea Cites 1540, An SC Member Hasn't Reported

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- When South Korea takes over presidency of the UN Security Council in May, it will hold only one open debate: on the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1540 on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

   South Korean Permanent Representative Oh Joon and Terence Taylor of the 1540 Committee Group of Experts took questions on the topic on April 29 at South Korea's Mission to the UN on 45th Street.

  Taylor began by saying that 22 countries have not filed any reports on compliance with the resolution, including not only the Democratic People's Republic of Korea but also Chad.

  Since Chad is a member of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked if Oh Joon or Terence Taylor had spoken with them. Inner City Press also asked, as it did the CTBTO's Zerbo on April 28, about 60 Minutes' report on negligence in the US' nuclear weapons program, including rotting missiles, old eight-inch floppy disks and nuclear weapons loaded on a plane and left on a tarmac for 36 hours.

   On Chad, Terrance Taylor said it was a problem of resources, citing conflict inside the country. (He did not mention the Central African Republic.)

  On 60 Minutes, Oh Joon gave a long answer about the UN's counter-terrorism architecture and post 9/11 focus on non-proliferation to non-state actors.

   The moderator, Pamela Falk who as president of the UN Correspondents Association tried to brand the briefing like a NASCAR racer's suit, said since 60 Minutes is CBS as she is, she'd give a link. But why didn't she ask about it? Too busy praising this one nation. Would others get this solicitude? No.

  But the South Korean mission, to their credit, replied to Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access and made clear that non-UNCA members could attend; only then did UNCA post a flyer to that effect on the glassed-in bulletin board outside the clubhouse the UN gives them. This is not the way to do it: the UN should be opening up, and not favoring censors.

   Back on April 28, when Lassina Zerbo of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization gave a press conference at the UN on April 28, he said he had just been in Ecuador reaching an agreement for a CTBTO monitoring station on the Galapagos Islands.

  Inner City Press asked Zerbo to say more about the CTBTO press release's statement that this monitoring "can also contribute to research of the atmosphere, storm systems and climate change." Zerbo cited volcanoes and "hydro-acoustic" monitoring.

  Afterward, the CTBTO sent Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access more information about climate change, including this same hydro-acoustic monitor of calving of icebergs.

  Inner City Press also asked Zerbo about a report by CBS' "60 Minutes" the night before, showing decaying US missiles and specifying how nuclear weapons were loaded on a plane by mistake and left on a tarmac, unguarded, for 36 hours.

  Zerbo to his credit didn't dodge the question, instead saying that beyond stopping proliferation there should be efforts to protect nuclear material from the possibility of proliferation. Presumably that means nukes shouldn't be left on the tarmac.

  Strangely, while the first question was automatically given by Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq to Pamela Falk of CBS, she did not ask about the nuclear report critical of the US by CBS' 60 Minutes. Instead she asked, as she had at noon, about North Korea, on the eve of a press event which she had tried to limit only to members of the UN Correspondents Association, and only those that she personally approved.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access successfully pushed back at that, particularly because some UNCA Executive Board members have been involved in censorship, and will continue to. And it will continue to put questions to the CTBTO. Watch this site.


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