Bush marks 40 years of NPT

July 2nd, 2008 - 1:21 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 1 (DPA) US President George W. Bush Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by calling on countries to ensure nuclear technology does not wind up in the hands of rogue nations or terrorists. “It is essential in these times of great challenges to the security of the international community … that NPT parties work together to confront the dangers of nuclear proliferation,” Bush said.

The US and nearly 60 other countries signed the treaty July 1, 1968, and it was since expanded to include almost every nation.

Only India, Israel and Pakistan have not signed the accord. North Korea withdrew in 2003 and detonated a nuclear bomb in October 2006.

The NPT, which went into effect in 1970, commits countries to not share nuclear weapons technology with other nations, calls on nuclear armed states to reduce stockpiles with the goal of complete disarmament, while allowing the use of peaceful nuclear technology to produce energy.

Bush said his administration has halved the US nuclear arsenal since he came into office in January 2001 to the lowest level since the 1950s.

“The United States remains firmly committed to continued compliance with our own obligations under the NPT,” Bush said.

The US and European Union (EU) are leading the international effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Both have sanctions on the Islamic state for its refusal to comply with UN Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment.

Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear weapons and is only enriching uranium at low grades for producing energy.

North Korea took a key step last week in its disarmament pact with the US, China, Japan and South Korea by disclosing its nuclear activities over the last two decades.

The six-nation negotiations are expected to resume soon to complete the implementation of a February 2007 agreement that would have North Korea abandon its nuclear programme.

The US and other nuclear armed states have been criticized for failing to more aggressively reduce the weapons stockpiles.

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