UNITED NATIONS, April 23: Pakistan led the opposition on Thursday to a key US-drafted resolution banning the transfer of unconventional weapons to terrorists, saying the measure could be used to justify military action.
Ambassador Munir Akram, speaking in the UN, said the UN Security Council was not the most appropriate body to oversee non-proliferation because its five permanent members all retained nuclear arms.
At issue is a resolution, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, permanent council members, hashed out over the past five months. It would compel nations to adopt and enforce laws prohibiting a terrorist or "non-state actor" from getting weapons of mass destruction.
No vote is expected until the end of April but the United States, which wants a unified council, may have to consider amendments to the draft that seeks to fill a gap in international non-proliferation treaties. A target of the resolution could be A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya, and is now under house arrest.
Siding with Pakistan were numerous non-aligned nations, including Malaysia and Indonesia, which participated in the debate. Among council members, Algeria raised several objections and Brazil proposed amendments so the resolution would not overlap with numerous non-proliferation treaties.
Germany's UN ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, said the resolution should include references to disarmament as a whole and make sure that any enforcement action would be subject to another "specific decision" by the council.
The draft invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, a provision that makes the resolution mandatory for all 191 UN members. Chapter 7 also allows for the eventuality of sanctions and military force. But British envoy Adam Thomson said in this case neither applied. "Any enforcement action would require a new Council decision," Thomson said.
However, Mr Akram said: "A legitimate fear arises that the use of Chapter 7... would imply the pre-authorization of the coercive actions." The draft, sponsored by the United States, Britain, France, Romania, Russia and Spain, calls on governments to penalize those helping terrorists obtain weapons, but does not provide any sanctions if the states do not comply.
Instead US officials said they relied mainly on "name and shame" pressures. "The goal of this resolution is to halt dangerous traffic by directing member states to make illegal the unauthorized trade in these weapons, their means of delivery and the plans, technology and materials needed to develop and build them," said US deputy ambassador James Cunningham.
"Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda have shown their willingness to kill thousands and they do not hide their desire to acquire weapons of mass destruction," Cunningham said.
He too emphasized that the mention of Chapter 7 did not mean the resolution was "about enforcement." But Indonesia's Ambassador Rezlan Ishar Jenie said the Security Council should not enact global legislation requiring members to alter national laws. Only signatories to treaties could do that. -Reuters