Diplomats trade barbs over nuclear issues

Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:11 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. envoy on arms control said a ban on fissile material was necessary for nuclear disarmament, though critics said the demands were lopsided.

Officials met at U.N. headquarters to address a committee on disarmament and international security. U.S. Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said Washington was working with other nuclear-power states on a comprehensive ban on fissile material.

She said negotiating a ban was "not something to fear." She expressed "grave concerns," however, over the nuclear ambitions of countries like Iran, North Korea and Syria.

All three countries, Gottemoeller said, are suspected of violating international protocols regarding non-proliferation of nuclear material.

The North Korean government, in a statement to the committee, said nuclear and missile concerns on the Korean Peninsula were a result of South Korean aggression. Seoul, the government said, made it a policy to eliminate Pyongyang's military system, forcing it to embrace a policy of nuclear deterrence.

Syria maintained it was a responsible party to nuclear non-proliferation treaties. Efforts by Damascus in 2003 to create chemical weapon- and nuclear weapon-free Middle East were answered by a veto threat from the United States.

Iran had no representation on the disarmament committee.

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