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Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article Published on Sunday, April 6, 2003 by the San Francisco Chronicle Disarmament in Tatters
US Undermined Arms Control System That Was Already Deadlocked
by James Sterngold The Bush administration's war to disarm Iraq and its increasingly unilateral approach to international disputes, say arms control experts, are helping to paralyze one of the most hopeful products of the post-World War II era: the global arms control and disarmament movement. They argue that the elaborately constructed system of disarmament treaties and organizations, which over the years had controlled the spread of everything from chemical and biological weapons to nuclear materials, has been dangerously imperiled. Any new agreements are at best a distant dream. "It is all very much dead in the water at the moment," said William Potter, a U.N. adviser and director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. In fact, arms control advocates note, there is a particular irony to the war in Iraq: While U.S. forces pound Saddam Hussein in one of the most radical and expensive unilateral acts of disarming another country, the leading international forum for negotiating multilateral arms control agreements, the United Nations-affiliated Conference on Disarmament, is so frozen by disputes that it is unable even to agree on an agenda. Negotiations of crucial issues relating to nuclear materials, weapons in space and biological weapons are completely deadlocked.