Bits From Abroad (February 2011)

February 2011

Four people dressed as nuclear missiles managed to enter the Ministry of Defence in Paris.

Italy is to hold a referendum on
the partial repeal of laws allowing the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Spain is insisting that the United States remove tens of thousands of cubic metres of earth still contaminated by plutonium from unexploded US air force nuclear bombs that accidentally fell in the 1960s.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has asked Burma to open its nuclear facilities for inspection.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has visited China’s nuclear warfare headquarters, at the end of a four-day visit to try to mend relations between the two.

Forty-nine new members joined Mayors for Peace in January 2011.  The largest growth was in Russia, Israel and Japan, with thirteen new members in Russia, and seven in each of Israel and Japan.

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 deployed weapons.

The governor of Tokyo has said Japan should develop nuclear weapons to defend itself against China and North Korea.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently addressed the Conference on Disarmament, which has been unable to take any decisions for over ten years.  He said that the impasse had “ominous

implications for international security. … The longer it persists, the graver the nuclear threat – from existing arsenals, from the proliferation of such weapons and from their possible acquisition by terrorists”.

Iran

Envoys from Egypt, Cuba, Syria, Algeria, Venezuela, Oman and the Arab League inspected two Iranian nuclear sites to verify whether Iran’s program is entirely peaceful, before the latest round of talks.

However, Russia, China and the European Union refused the invitation. The EU said inspectors should be from the UN. The United States was not invited.

The talks, between Iran, on the one hand, and China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and US on the other, ended inconclusively.  Iran said progress had been made, but the other states disagreed.  Lady Cathy Ashton, who once worked at CND’s National Office, and is now in charge of European foreign policy, tried to persuade the head of the Iranian delegation to talk to the US, but in vain.  The Iranian President says he is hopeful about further talks on Iran’s nuclear program, while Israel says more negotiations would be a ”waste of time”.