Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nuclear mindset to change?

Nuclear mindset to change?

The international community needs to change its mindset on the production of nuclear weapons to herald in an era of peace and security, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday.

Briefing the media in Pretoria, the agency's director general Mohamed el Baradei said countries needed to adopt the philosophy of Ubuntu - I am because we are - in order to tackle disputes around nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

"There's a lot of lack of trust, there's also a lot of double standards...I would encourage different points of view but I would discourage mistrust," he said following a meeting with President Jacob Zuma. "If we work as one human family, not on the assumption that it is the North versus the South and the East versus the West... [but] unfortunately that's not the case yet." He said sanctions placed on countries that continued to produce nuclear weapons would not help bring about peace and security.

"We need more of dialogue and less of muscle flexing."

He said the mindset around establishing global peace also needed to be revisited and not with a sole focus on nuclear disarmament. "We need a new system of security that does not rely on nuclear weapons," he said adding that cyber security, social conditions and climate change impacted on these systems. "You need to look at the one in six people who goes to bed hungry every night. "As long as we continue to see people dying... then we have been failing as the international community, then we have been failing as an international agency."

South Africa's ambassador to the agency Abdul Minty said the country would continue to support the policies of the IAEA. He said South Africa continued to be a front runner in its application of nuclear energy for peaceful means. This included being the biggest producer of medical isotopes using low enriched uranium to aid in fighting cancer. Research on applications for tsetse fly and Malaria were also ongoing under the auspices of the IAEA.

"These are some of the useful aspects of nuclear technology," said Minty.



Picture courtesy of EPA / Roland Schlager

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