North Korea and Iran show nuke pact needs update
* Annan says Oil-for-food scandal will not derail UN reform
UNITED NATIONS: Recent moves by Iran and North Korea show how important it is to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday as he urged delegates to a global conference on the pact to stop bickering and speed up their work.
Delegates spent the first week and a half of the four-week conference wrangling over the agenda.
North Korea declared this week it had taken spent atomic fuel from a reactor, a process that could give it more material to make nuclear arms, and US officials have said it appeared Pyongyang was preparing for a nuclear weapons test.
Iran said it was poised to resume activities related to uranium enrichment, which could enable it to make warheads, although Tehran insisted it wants only to produce fuel for power plants. The recent developments in those two countries “indicate the importance of this conference and the need for member-states to focus on this NPT conference and try and strengthen it and make progress,” Annan said.
The four-week conference opened two weeks ago. The delegates reached an agreement on the agenda on Wednesday, but are now locked in talks over how to allocate the work among the various conference committees.
“Of course I am concerned, like everybody else, that it took two weeks to agree on an agenda, and I hope they will accelerate their work,” Annan told reporters. “The issues are known, and I hope they will be able to accelerate their work and make some progress.”
North Korea pulled out of the nonproliferation pact in 2003 and is not attending the month-long conference at UN headquarters searching for ways to improve the treaty. But many governments are pressing Pyongyang to reverse course and end its nuclear arms ambitions. Iran remains a member and is attending the meeting. Britain, France and Germany had persuaded Tehran to suspend enrichment-related activities last year to reassure the world it was not seeking atomic weapons as Washington believes.
Oil-for-food scandal: Annan said the UN-Iraq oil-for-food scandal will not derail his reform plans for the world body.
“I hope that the member states who are focused on the reform initiative will continue on that,” Annan told reporters, adding that his proposals would have “a longer term impact on the organization.”
Annan, who has been under pressure over scandals including oil-for-food, acknowledged “there have been mistakes in the oil-for-food thing. Serious allegations have been made ... we are taking measures to strengthen our own administration and transparency.”
“I do not expect it to derail the reform process.” The UN chief has presented an ambitious UN reform project, which includes increasing the UN Security Council, which he hopes to see passed at a summit of world leaders in September.
Annan said UN members who knew how oil-for-food was set up and managed “are much more sanguine about the facts than most other people, and I hope they will focus on the work ahead and strengthen this institution.” “For some, the oil-for-food crisis will never die down,” he said.
The 64-billion dollar oil-for-food programme, which ran from December 1996 to November 2003, was intended to ease the effects of international sanctions on ordinary Iraqis, allowing Iraq to sell oil and use the revenue to buy humanitarian supplies.An independent inquiry panel found that UN official Benon Sevan had steered oil allocations to a firm linked to a relative of Annan’s predecessor as secretary general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. agencies