UN votes to press countries to stop terrorists getting nukes

UN votes to press countries to stop terrorists getting nukes
4 min read
01 December, 2022
The UN Security Council resolution approved by a 15–0 vote extends the mandate of the committee monitoring implementation of the 2004 resolution on the threat of 'non-state actors' obtaining or trafficking weapons of mass destruction for 10 years.
The UN Security Council vote was unanimous [Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty-archive]

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to keep pressing all countries to implement a resolution aimed at keeping nuclear, chemical and biological weapons out of the hands of terrorists, black marketeers and others.

The council resolution approved by a 15–0 vote extends the mandate of the committee monitoring implementation of the 2004 resolution on the threat of "non-state actors" obtaining or trafficking weapons of mass destruction for 10 years until 30 November 2032.

It also continues support for the committee's group of experts.

The resolution calls on the committee and the 193 UN member nations to take into account the use by non-government groups and individuals of rapid advances in science and technology to spread the use of these banned weapons.

The council says in the resolution that it is "gravely concerned" at the threat of terrorism and the risk that non-state actors may acquire, develop, traffic in or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, including by relying on advances in science and technology.

The April 2004 resolution was adopted in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001, terrorist attack on the United States to close what then-US President George W. Bush called a loophole that could allow terror groups to gain weapons of mass destruction.

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International treaties had targeted weapons proliferation by governments, but at the time there were no laws to prevent "non-state actors" such as terrorists, corrupt scientists, black market actors and others from obtaining WMDs.

The resolution requires all UN member states to adopt laws to prevent "non-state actors" from manufacturing, acquiring or trafficking in nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, the materials to make them, and the missiles and other systems to deliver them.

It also requires all countries to take measures to account for and secure all banned weapons, missiles and weapons material, and to develop border controls and step up efforts "to detect, deter, prevent and combat… the illicit trafficking and brokering in such items".

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the Security Council after Wednesday's vote that the committee monitoring and helping countries implement the resolution "remains a critical tool" to help address "the existential threat of non-state actors potentially acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction".

He said the US welcomed the council's vote in favour of "a more effective, more transparent, and more accountable" committee that will continue supporting UN members in their efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution calls for the committee to conduct comprehensive reviews on implementation, including holding open sessions in five years and before it needs to be renewed in 10 years.

And it calls on countries that have not submitted a report on steps they have taken or intend to take to implement the resolution to submit one "without delay".

The council called for intensified efforts by the committee to promote full implementation of the 2004 resolution, saying more attention is needed, including on enforcement and finance measures, securing materials and national export and transshipment controls.

Mexican ambassador Juan Ramon De La Fuente Ramirez, who chairs the committee and sponsored the resolution, said negotiations weren't easy, which is why "we very much welcome" the unanimous extension of the committee's mandate.

It will not only support efforts by countries to prevent non-state actors from getting access to weapons of mass destruction but "will make it possible to continue to strengthen the assistance which states require in order to meet their obligations", he said.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the 2004 resolution "fully retains its relevance today", and he welcomed council unanimity on the committee's extension, calling it the result of "major efforts, a constructive attitude, and the flexibility of all the members of the council".

With the adoption of "the new substantive resolution," he said, the Security Council should be able to more effectively monitor implementation and coordinate and provide technical assistance to states that request it.

But he told several reporters later that Russia opposed making the group of experts "much more intrusive", saying this was "contrary to their mandate".