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UN council unanimously adopts terrorist arms ban
Updated: 2004-04-29 08:40

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Wednesday for a U.S.-drafted resolution that would punish black marketeers who traffic in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons components.

The measure would obligate all 191 U.N. member nations to punish "non-state actors" dealing in parts and technology for weapons of mass destruction.

Even Pakistan, which had misgivings until the last minute, voted for the resolution in the 15-nation council, giving the Bush administration and its allies a clean sweep.

Pakistan admitted this year that Abdul Qadeer Khan, a scientist revered as the father of the country's nuclear bomb, had smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya, and was under house arrest.

In an effort to get Pakistan's vote, the resolution was not made retroactive, a point noted by its U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram, in his address to the council.

The measure was sponsored by Britain, France, the Philippines, Romania, Russia and Spain as well as the United States. U.S. President Bush at September's U.N. General Assembly called for a resolution to "criminalize the proliferation of weapons."

In a White House statement, Bush called the vote "an important achievement" and urged nations to enact appropriate measures. "We must continue to press these efforts to ensure that the world's most destructive weapons are kept from the world's most dangerous regimes and organizations," he said.

The resolution compels nations to adopt and enforce laws to prevent terrorists and black marketeers from being able to "manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery."


It was adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which makes it obligatory for all nations and could allow for eventual sanctions and the use of force.

In this case, it does not provide any sanctions if the states do not comply. Instead, U.S. officials said they relied mainly on "name and shame" pressures on errant nations, and British envoys said any enforcement action would need another resolution.

Pakistan's Akram earlier objected to the use of Chapter VII enforcement provisions.

But Akram said on Wednesday that revisions in the text made it clear the council would not legislate for the world because it was not a representative body. The text now says it is up to individual nations to adopt specific legislation.

The U.S. deputy ambassador, James Cunningham, told the council, "No one nation can meet this challenge alone." He hoped states would cooperate in efforts to "stop the flow of these deadly weapons."

The resolution was negotiated over six months by the five permanent members of the council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

It aims to fill a gap in the system of treaties negotiated since World War II to halt the spread of nuclear and other unconventional weapons to "non-state actors" rather than states alone.

In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "The importance of this resolution cannot be underestimated" as a demonstration "of the international community's determination to tackle the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Among the concessions in the resolution was to lengthen to two years from six months the life of a Security Council monitoring committee. The shorter period had raised questions of quick compliance in devising and adopting new legislation.

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