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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 73, October - November 2003

Editor's Introduction

The current, profound impasse in multilateral disarmament diplomacy was illustrated again in early September with the unproductive conclusion of another annual session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. In his cogent analysis, India's Ambassador to the CD, Rakesh Sood, locates the source of the Conference's long crisis "in the absence of adequate political will" to advance the CD's potentially rich agenda. Breaking the logjam, Sood argues, correspondingly "requires a political realization" of the indispensability of an effective multilateral forum to address the key security concerns of our troubled times. Acronym Institute Executive Director Rebecca Johnson likewise argues the case for decisive political action to save the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Reporting from Vienna on the latest conference to facilitate entry into force of the treaty, Johnson argues that it is time for ratifying states to give the treaty greater legal and political standing with "provisional application" in order to send the clearest possible message that "the international community will not tolerate any further nuclear testing". A distressing example of the consequences of bypassing multilateral disarmament efforts - the looting of nuclear materials in the wake of the US-led invasion of Iraq - is the starting point for an article by arms control consultant Andy Oppenheimer on the global 'dirty bomb' threat.

The journal's new News Analysis section features assessments of developments in the ongoing search for banned weapons in Iraq, the inquiry into the apparent suicide of British biological weapons expert Dr. David Kelly, six-party talks on the North Korea nuclear crisis, the collision between Iran and the IAEA, a range of US policy discussions and decisions with regard to weapons of mass destruction (both its own and others') and the opening of a new chapter for states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

This issue of Disarmament Diplomacy is my last as editor. In an editorial comment, I share some parting reflections; in an opinion paper, I conduct a pessimistic but undespairing tour of an era of retreat and defeat for the disarmament regime since the journal's first appearance in January 1996. On a personal note, I would like to record a debt of thanks to my colleagues, to the Board of the Acronym Institute, to all of the contributors to the journal, to its many friends and supporters, and above all to my wife, Lee-Anne Broadhead, for her invaluable assistance and input. I also wish to express my respect and admiration for the contribution made to the cause of disarmament over many years by Rebecca Johnson.

May Disarmament Diplomacy live long and prosper!

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© 2003 The Acronym Institute.