September 8, 2005

63 nations to sign new UN nuclear terrorism treaty

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sixty-three nations have agreed
to sign a new treaty against nuclear terrorism next week during
a world summit in New York, U.N. Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel
said on Thursday.

The treaty, which would oblige governments to punish those
who illegally possess atomic devices or radioactive materials,
was approved by the 191-nation U.N. General Assembly on April
13 after seven years of drafting.

The accord is first global anti-terrorism convention since
the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Called the "International Convention on the Suppression of
Acts of Nuclear Terrorism," it is meant to stop clandestine
networks from using or possessing nuclear weapons.

Once it is opened for signature, it must then be ratified
by at least 22 nations before it can become international law.

Russia called for such a treaty in 1998 to keep nuclear
weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist groups. At the
time, Alexander Lebed, then the Russian national security
chief, said Moscow could not account for about 100
suitcase-sized nuclear arms.

It obligates governments to prosecute or extradite
individuals who possess radioactive materials or nuclear
devices or those who threaten others while possessing such