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2009年4月 7日 (火)

オバマ演説 北朝鮮への対応が試金石だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 7, 2009)
North Korea puts ball in Obama's court
オバマ演説 北朝鮮への対応が試金石だ(4月7日付・読売社説)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday set out the U.S. policy of being actively engaged in nuclear arms reduction and preventing nuclear terrorism to bring about a peaceful and safe "world without nuclear weapons."

During his comprehensive speech on nuclear nonproliferation in Prague, Obama also declared he would host a summit meeting within a year on global nuclear security to strengthen international coordination on the issue.

Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed during talks on Wednesday in London that the two countries will start negotiations on reducing their nuclear stockpiles and seek substantial cuts in the number of nuclear warheads they hold. Obama's declaration of his strong resolve to prevent nuclear proliferation came just days after these talks.

The threat of global nuclear war diminished after the Cold War ended. However, nuclear proliferation has become a stark reality after nuclear tests by India, Pakistan and North Korea and Iran's nuclear development. Threats such as nuclear terrorism will only grow.


NPT framework rocked

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty framework, which bans countries other than Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States from possessing nuclear arms, has been shaken to its foundation.

The Obama administration apparently hopes to shore up this framework under the U.S. initiative announced by the president.

During Sunday's speech, Obama said the United States, the only country to have used nuclear weapons, had a "moral responsibility" to take action to help rid the world of nuclear weapons. We applaud Obama on this point, and we hope the president will be able to accomplish his objectives.

The abolition of nuclear weapons is the ultimate prize, but this will be a extremely difficult task. Obama admitted during his speech, "This goal will not be reached quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime." Even so, it is important to take a realistic approach and nip in the bud each and every potential threat to the world's safety.

Whether Obama can take concrete action is being tested in dealing with North Korea, which launched a long-range ballistic missile Sunday in defiance of warnings from the international community.

"North Korea broke the rules once more...Now is the time for a strong international response," Obama said of Pyongyang's missile launch. The first step on this issue will hinge on the decision of the U.N. Security Council.


UNSC members not in tune

However, differences in stances among the 15 members of the Security Council have surfaced on this matter.

Japan, Britain, France and the United States are seeking a new Security Council resolution that calls for the stricter enforcement of existing sanctions on North Korea. These countries agree that Sunday's launch violated Security Council Resolution 1718, which demanded Pyongyang abandon its ballistic missile program.

However, China and Russia have not sided with Japan and the other three countries. They apparently accept North Korea's claim that it launched a satellite.

If the Security Council fails to adopt swift and robust measures against North Korea, the reclusive country will continue to use its nuclear arms and missiles to provoke and threaten others.

Japan is within range of North Korea's Rodong missiles that have been deployed. If North Korea succeeds in building a smaller nuclear warhead, Japan will be staring down the barrel of a terrifying threat.

Can Obama exercise strong leadership in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons? His ability to follow through on this is now being put to the test.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 7, 2009)
(2009年4月7日01時39分  読売新聞)


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