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U.S. Drafts UN Resolution Urging Nuclear Disarmament

The 15-member Security Council should debate the draft resolution on September 24.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The United States has drafted a UN Security Council resolution calling on all countries with atomic weapons to get rid of them, a text Washington hopes will be approved by a special council session presided over by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The 15-nation council will debate the draft resolution on September 24 on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the General Assembly, where Obama is making his debut appearance at the United Nations. Washington holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council during September.

The draft resolution was circulated to the full council on September 11, diplomats said.

The text, obtained by Reuters, calls for signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to begin talks on nuclear arms reduction and to negotiate "a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, and calls on all other states to join in this endeavor."

Diplomats said the U.S. draft was yet another example of the sharp shift on disarmament policy taken by the Obama administration. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, had angered many NPT members by ignoring disarmament commitments made by previous U.S. governments, analysts say.

The five permanent council members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China -- all have nuclear weapons. The "other states" -- referred to but not named in the text -- are Pakistan and India, which have not signed the NPT but are known to have atomic arsenals, and Israel, which neither confirms nor denies having nuclear arms but is presumed to have a sizable stockpile warheads.

Council diplomats told Reuters it also referred to North Korea, which withdrew from the treaty in 2003 and later tested two nuclear devices -- one in 2006 and another earlier this year.

It also urges those countries outside the NPT to join it. Becoming a party to the NPT would require scrapping their nuclear arsenals, something the nuclear powers outside the pact have refused to do so far.

The draft resolution does not name specific countries, but it clearly has North Korea and Iran in mind when it says the council "deplores in particular the current major challenges to the nonproliferation regime that the Security Council has determined to be threats to international peace and security."

Urges All States To Join Test Ban Treaty

The West suspects Iran is developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program and have pushed three rounds of UN sanctions against it, despite initial objections raised by Russia and China. Tehran says its atomic program is entirely peaceful and is aimed solely at the production of electricity.

Without referring to any specific regions, the draft resolution has the council "welcoming and supporting the steps taken to conclude nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties." Egypt and other Arab states have long called for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East -- which would mean Israel would have to get rid of any atomic bombs it possesses.

The draft resolution also calls for the creation of a treaty that would ban the production of fissile material made specifically for nuclear weapons.

The U.S. resolution would also urge "all states to refrain from conducting a nuclear test explosion and to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, thereby bringing the treaty into force."

The United States signed the treaty, which would ban all nuclear tests, in 1996 during the administration of President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. In 1999, the then-Republican-majority U.S. Senate made clear that it opposed the treaty as an unnecessary limitation on its military research options.

When Bush took office in 2001 his administration said it did not want its options limited by such a treaty and never asked the Senate to vote on the test ban treaty.

Washington is joined by China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan as hold-out countries whose ratification is necessary for the treaty to enter into force. There will be a major conference on the test ban treaty on September 24-25 at UN headquarters in New York.

The draft resolution also voices support for the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and urges countries to accept its more rigorous inspection regime under the agency's so-called Additional Protocol intended to smoke out clandestine nuclear weapons activities.

It also expresses the hope that next year's NPT review conference will be a success. The last review conference in 2005 was a failure and some delegates accused the United States, Iran, and Egypt of sabotaging the meeting and preventing it from agreeing on an overhaul of the landmark arms control pact.