Presentation of the Luxembourg Forum Declaration

  • Background

Moscow, December 18, 2007. The official declaration of

the International Conference on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe was

presented today at the RIA-Novosti press centre. The Conference was held

in Luxembourg on May 24-25 this year.

The declaration was presented by a group of experts, including Hans Blix, Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (via videoconference between Moscow and Stockholm); Rolf Ekeus, Board Chairman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and former High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Viatcheslav Kantor, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Luxembourg Conference and President of the European Jewish Congress and Russian Jewish Congress; Uzi Arad, founding head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy and Adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee; Vladimir Dvorkin, Principal Researcher of the Institute for World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor, retired Major General; and Sergey Oznobishchev, Director of the Institute for Strategic Assessments and Professor of the Moscow State Institute for International Relations at the Russian Ministry of Interior.

The declaration was finalized in early December 2007, with more than forty world leading experts from fourteen countries contributing to its creation. The declaration contains proposals to prevent the collapse of the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime and offers a set of practical steps to strengthen this regime.

During the press conference, Rolf Ekeus called the important initiative well-timed, since some rogue states are seeking to create their own full nuclear fuel cycle. According to Peace Research Institute Chairman, we are facing the danger of true "nuclear anarchy" and the chief aim of the declaration is to prevent this scenario.

Hans Blix stated that the specific proposals incorporated in the declaration form an action plan intended to decrease the nuclear threat within the next few years. Commenting on the commencement of Russia's nuclear fuel deliveries to the Iranian power plant in Bushehr, Blix emphasized that this step and other initiatives supporting Iran's civilian nuclear program are positive developments in the process of settling the Iranian nuclear issue, provided that Iran halts its military nuclear efforts.

Viatcheslav Kantor announced the opening of a permanent Luxembourg Forum, explaining that the Forum's program envisages regular workshops and conferences on the most current and pressing issues associated with nuclear weapons proliferation. The next Forum workshop will discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis.

"The establishment of the Luxemburg Forum and associated institutes will help formulate constructive decisions based on the experts' proposals. The declaration is a roadmap on this issue. Those who disagree with it will have to confront the unanimous position of the expert global community rather than opinions of individual countries," noted Kantor.

During the discussion, Vladimir Dvorkin highlighted a growing concern in regard to the Iranian crisis. He stated that the recent U.S. intelligence report on the Iranian nuclear program gives rise to many questions. "It shows that Iran's reporting to the IAEA was even more misleading than we used to think, since it had been developing its nuclear weapons prior to 2003. We need to understand what the words stating that Iran discontinued nuclear weapons research really mean. Perhaps the research has been completed." He also stated that if the crisis is not resolved, more severe incremental sanctions must be taken against Iran.

Uzi Arad stressed that if Russia supplies fuel to Bushehr, Iran has no need to continue uranium enrichment; however, these deliveries are a test of sorts. Israel has been watching the process of construction in Bushehr and is convinced that it has helped Iran develop some of the infrastructure.

In Sergey Oznobishchev's words, "[t]he growing threat of more countries and terrorist organizations gaining access to nuclear weapons urgently calls for the creation of an impenetrable barrier against nuclear proliferation." He is convinced that, at this point, the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime cannot be efficiently observed due to the lack of joint determination and political will among the nuclear states, rather that any lack of technology.

The Supervisory Board of the Luxembourg Forum includes high-level participants of the Luxembourg conference, in particular Hans Blix, Rolf Ekeus, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Academician Nikolai Laverov and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry. The following prominent politicians have tentatively agreed to join the Supervisory Board: former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative Sam Nunn and former Secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council and former Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Igor Ivanov.

On the eve of the official presentation, the declaration was circulated to heads of state throughout the world, top-tier politicians and heads of major international organizations. Among its addressees are Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President George Bush, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, French President Nicolas Sarcozy, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Terry Davis.