Latin American states discuss nuclear issues


The 14th general conference of the Organisation to Ban Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Vina del Mar, Chile, for the first time with the participation of the 33 nations of the subcontinent, pledged to help strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to adapt it to the region's new reality.

Resolutions were adopted concerning the prevention of marine contamination, and it was considered necessary to re-examine the principles regarding the transportation of radioactive substances through the territorial waters of the region's states.

Chile and Argentina, which were participating in the conference for the first time, stated their concern over this problem, following the case of the British ship which sailed close to their coasts while carrying 14 tons of plutonium destined for Japan.

With the backing of the majority of the member states, all signatories to the Tlatelolco Treaty [which bans nuclear weapons in Latin America], Chile and Argentina agreed that the measures provided for in international legislation are insufficient and require thorough revision in order to prevent tragedies.

Although the five major nuclear powers — the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain and China, which attended the event as states linked to the Tlatelolco Treaty — called on Latin America to back the extension for an indefinite period of the NPT, it was clear that such a consensus does not exist.

Cuba reiterated that its signing of the Tlatelolco Treaty, for the sake of Latin American unity, is counterposed by the persistence and intensification of the United States' policy of hostility and blockade against Cuba. Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, first deputy foreign minister of Cuba, stressed that in the future the solution to the problem should be considered a condition for his country continuing as a signatory to the treaty.

Remirez de Estenoz recalled that Cuba's hesitation in signing the treaty was for strictly moral reasons, as this meant a one-sided step forward in return for which it only received hostility, pressure and threats of aggression from the only nuclear power in the hemisphere.

He also denounced the way that the United States is intensifying its campaign against Cuba and maintains its illegal occupation of the Guantanamo naval base, through which it even sails its ships carrying nuclear weapons. In his opinion, in addition to Latin American and Caribbean nations being asked to formally renounce the possession of atomic weapons, there should be a simultaneous verification, within the framework of the Tlatelolco Treaty, of the obligations assumed by the nuclear powers toward the region.

After affirming that Cuba has always spoken out against all forms of nuclear weapons, Remirez de Estenoz reiterated that Cuba has always sought peace based on its people's independence and free development.

"We are convinced", he concluded, "that with the united action of all the Latin American and Caribbean countries we will succeed in our aim of establishing a world in which war will be a thing of the past mentioned in history books."
[Abridged from Granma International.]

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