by Antoinette Odoi and Anju Srivastava
In recent times, nuclear discussions have not been far from the headlines. This week, Iran resumed uranium enrichment thus breaching a Paris agreement it signed on Nov. 15, 2004. Consequently, the three EU countries with which it had been negotiating – Britain, France and Germany- have reacted strongly, with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer hinting at "disastrous consequences”, whilst French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy described the situation as a ‘grave crisis.’
Meanwhile, an additional report from today’s Guardian states ‘Iran has made 4000 centrifuges capable of weapons grade uranium enrichment - 25 times the quantity it has admitted to the UN.’ This information has recently been brought to light by Strategic Policy Consulting, a Washington-based think-tank. These centrifuge machines were not declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), despite ongoing talks with the EU. The US is suspicious that the centrifuges will be used to make nuclear weapons, however, Iran maintains that these machines will only be used to produce nuclear energy. At this stage, the IEAE does not seem to be planning to report this incidence to the UN Security Council which could impose sanctions on the regime.
The six-nation talks between North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US have been reportedly met with an impasse and have been delayed to the end of this month. Recriminations between North Korea and the US are being tossed back and forth, with the US refusing to budge on allowing North Korea to possess light-water reactors whilst North Korea maintains that it is not harbouring any ulterior motives.
This week, the on-going talks were given a sombre background with the recent commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in which there was a stark reminder from the Mayor of Nagasaki that past events should never be forgotten and that peace should be given a chance to reign.
If nothing else, stories from the elderly victims who witnessed the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki should act as a reminder of the damage, both physical and psychological, that any possible nuclear weapons can cause – a situation that,fortunately, the majority of us have not had to witness.