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At the UN, Nuclear and Terror Committees Struggle Toward Their Sunsets, No Mention of N. Korea nor of A.Q. Khan

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, July 12 -- The UN's institutional approach to terrorism was on display on Thursday. A committee charged with combating and preventing nuclear proliferation declined to name any names, while another declined to make predictions about its own survival, in the face of its mandate sun-setting in December of this year.

    "The Security Council will consider it," said Sergey Karev of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate. "I hope not in late December, it is not a good time for us. November is better... Ask Security Council people." Video here, from Minute 26:05.

            Inner City Press, which previously interviewed Javier Ruperez, chased out of CTED by acrimony centered around the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohamed, did in fact ask Security Council member Peter Burian, Ambassador of Slovakia. Amb. Burian, who chairs the committee on (nuclear) resolution 1540 which also sunsets in April 2008, said that CTED should continued. Video here.  Off-camera, he told Inner City Press that he has already seen names for a replacement for Mr. Ruperez, which would imply that the office will continue. But that will only by known in late 2007 when the Council votes.

            The CTED has recently visited Bangladesh and Indonesia, as Ruperez had projected. Inner City Press asked Mr. Karev about Ruperez' statement that it would be impossible to visit Somalia. "It is not on our list," Mr. Karev said, adding that there are upcoming visits to Vietnam, Armenia and "maybe Georgia," all of which have given their consent. One wonders if the consent of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, for example, were also sought, and if they'd be visited.

    CTED's Sergey Karev, after his briefing, confirmed to Inner City Press that the mood in the Counter-Terrorism Committee remains tense. Danish cartoons? He nodded. These are difficult issues, he said. Apparently they are.

Anti-terror rally in Jordan, November 2005

            The 1540 Committee, which has met for two days with donors, non-governmental organizations and others, rebuffed a reporter's request to name a country or situation and not only "process." Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Amb. Burian about North Korea. He nodded, but said that "we are not a sanctions committee." Asked about the tensions in the Counter-Terrorism Committee of which Ruperez told Inner City Press, specifically arguments about the Danish cartoons, Amb. Burian said, "That is everywhere, you cannot escape it." He said that he believes that the 1540 Committee should be made permanent, aligned with the General Assembly.  The Expert of the 1540 Committee, Dr. Richard Cupitt, said that sunset clauses might be good, for being "held to account."

            The NGO representative on the panel, Elizabeth Turpen of the Stimson Center, spoke about efforts to expand focus between the former Soviet space, to the "Next 100" countries. Neither she nor the other two panelists, however, addressed a critique raised by many, including a Carnegie Endowment report which Ms. Turpen said she'd just read, that countries  possessing nuclear weapons should be pressured to made credible steps toward disarmament, if other countries are to take the issue seriously.

            The intersection between the two committees involved training or luring developing countries into these issues. The 1540 Committee apparently tried to emphasize about combating toxic waste can help with tourism; the CTED just finished briefing a group of West African states. But can you say North Korea? And the word Pakistan, much less A.Q. Khan, was not even mentioned. Only at the UN...

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540