Global arms control architecture ‘collapsing’: UN

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech before the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on February 25, 2019 in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2019
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Global arms control architecture ‘collapsing’: UN

  • “I will be blunt. Key components of the international arms control architecture are collapsing,” Guterres said

GENEVA: The international arms control system is facing collapse, the United Nations chief said Monday, as he urged Russia and the US to stop the imminent demise of a crucial nuclear treaty.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres used an address to the UN’s Conference on Disarmament to warn that one of the cornerstones of diplomatic achievement over the last half century — arms control — was in “grave danger.”
“I will be blunt. Key components of the international arms control architecture are collapsing,” Guterres said.
The United States has already begun the process of withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, in response to Moscow’s deployment of the 9M729 missile, prompting Russia to announce its own withdrawal.
“We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” Guterres said.
“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised,” he added. “It is very important that this treaty be preserved.”
The collapse of the 1987 treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, has sparked fears of a new arms race in Europe.
The US withdrawal is not set to take effect until August, giving a six-month window to save the treaty, but few expect this to happen and NATO has warned the world should ready itself for the pact’s scrapping.
Guterres recalled that despite a mutual lack of trust, the US, the former Soviet Union and later Russia agreed to a series of arms control agreements through a commitment to strict verification, which became “one of the hallmarks of international security.”
He voiced hope that nations would recommit to the principles of verification and compliance to forge urgently needed deals covering nuclear weapons and new technologies like “hypersonic weapons that could be used to launch attacks at unprecedented speed.”
UN-backed negotiations are under way to govern the use of so-called killer robots, or weapons that can deploy lethal force without a human making the final decision to launch a strike.
But those talks have moved at a glacial pace, with activists accusing major powers of dragging their feet.
Guterres warned that new technologies are changing the arms control landscape “in ways we do not yet understand and cannot even imagine.”
“We need a new vision for arms control in the complex international security environment of today,” he added.


Sri Lankan police hold alleged trainer of suicide bombers

Updated 4 min 48 sec ago
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Sri Lankan police hold alleged trainer of suicide bombers

  • Arrested Egyptian national living in Sri Lanka illegally for four years, police say
  • Eight countries promise help to combat terror, says leader

COLOMBO: An Egyptian man arrested north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Wednesday is alleged to have trained suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks on the island, investigators said. 
 
The 44-year-old Egyptian national was arrested in Madampe, a coastal town 40 km north of Colombo, following a tip-off.
 
Ruwan Gunasekera, a Colombo police spokesman, said that the man had been living illegally on the island without a passport or valid visa for more than four years.
 
Police are investigating whether the suspect trained the suicide bombers responsible for a wave of attacks on hotels and churches on the island that left more than 350 people dead and hundreds injured.
 
Eight of the nine suicide bombers have been identified by police, the spokesman said.
 
The names of the attackers were withheld because of security concerns. However, Arab News learned that among the nine were Mohammed Insaf and Mohammed Azaam Mohammed Mubarak, who struck the Shangri La Hotel.

State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said that most of the suicide bombers were well educated and hailed from upper middle-class families. One of the bombers had studied in the UK and did his doctorate in Australia, he added.
 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Niluka Kudirgamuwa told Arab News on Wednesday that the bodies of 13 of the 36 foreigners killed in the bomb blasts have been repatriated. Fourteen foreign tourists are still missing.
 
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told foreign ambassadors on Tuesday that eight countries, including the US and Germany, have pledged technological and intelligence assistance to combat terror on the island.
 
He appealed to other countries to cooperate “in this fight against the menace of terrorism.”
 
The Sri Lankan leader said that law enforcement agencies had acted swiftly to identify and arrest those responsible for acts of terrorism.
 
Envoys who offered help included representatives of the UN and EU, and ambassadors of Germany, the US, Denmark, Norway and Pakistan.
 
Sirisena said that intelligence gained during the 30-year civil war on the island will be used in the fight against terrorism following the introduction of emergency powers.
 
A block on social media will be lifted by Thursday, he said. 
Meanwhile, Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told Muslim foreign ambassadors and high commissioners who visited him to offer their condolences on Wednesday, that Muslims have successfully coexisted with other communities in the island for centuries.

Turkish Ambassador Tunca Ozcuhadar said the attack is neither communal nor political but was carried out by a group of misled youths who may have had some links with some extremist groups.