- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Gaining workers, losing voters

So Ralph Z. Hallow reports that “Republican leaders see little chance of a significant grass-roots revolt over President Bush’s immigration policy,” which would give away American jobs to illegal aliens and Mexican nationals who wish to control the policies of our country (“GOP weighs value of Bush immigration plan,” Nation, Friday).

I am Hispanic and a loyal American, and I have left the Republican Party and will vote Democrat this year. That is how angry Mr. Bush’s proposal has made me. American jobs belong to the American people and to law-abiding foreigners.

PRISCILLA ESPINOZA

Nuevo, Calif.

A challenge of our time

International terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction represent a most urgent threat.

Countering these threats must be accorded the highest priority.

The Nordic-Baltic region is located outside the main zones of conflict. Yet, international terrorism is a global challenge.

September 11 and subsequent terrorist attacks around the world demonstrate that terrorists can strike anywhere at any time. Their aim is to spread the greatest amount of death and destruction. We can only imagine the impact of terrorists getting hold of weapons of mass destruction. Our efforts to halt the spread of such weapons and their means of delivery have taken on a new urgency.

A growing number of politically unstable states in possessionofthesedeadly weapons gives an increased risk that such weapons may end up in the hands of nonstate actors. More states with such weapons increase the vulnerability to sabotage, leakage and accidents that may have long-term consequences on environmentalandpublic safety.

DevelopmentsinNorth Korea give particular cause for concern. The announcement to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a key challenge to the authority and integrity of the treaty that for decades has been the cornerstone of collective security. The norms set by the nonproliferation treaty are more important than ever.

We — the parliamentarians of the Nordic and Baltic countries — call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to reverse its course of action, to comply with her obligations under the nonproliferation treaty and to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Only in international cooperation — and only by employing the whole range of diplomatic, political, economic and legal instruments — can we succeed in our efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The decision by Iran to accept the request by the international community and cooperate fully with the IAEA is a victory for diplomacy.

Disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation measures are crucial to our efforts of halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We need to strengthen the international and multilateral instruments in this field. We need to ensure strict compliance. We must take every measure to safeguard material that may be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction.

For several decades, the Nordic-Baltic region was traversed by the Iron Curtain. The world’s largest concentration of nuclear weapons was a stone’s throw away on the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia. Left to this day is a dangerous legacy of abandoned nuclear reactors, most of them inside decommissioned, nuclear-powered submarines. Terrorists combining conventional explosive devices with stolen radioactive material to construct a “dirty bomb” — which is a real threat also to U.S. cities, including Washington — is a real and frightening scenario. Such a bomb may, in addition tocausingmaterialand human devastation, contaminate large areas of valuable resources.

The secure handling and storage of nuclear waste and material in northwest Russia is a matter of global concern. It requires concerted international efforts.

We have moved beyond the stereotypes of the Cold War confrontation between East and West. The Russian Federation works closely with the United States, NATO and the European Union. Russia is a contributing partner in a web of regional and subregional organizations in the Nordic and Baltic region. The Barents Sea Cooperation, the Nordic Council and Arctic Cooperation, the Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation, as well as the EU Northern Dimension initiative, are focal points in our mutual efforts.

The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, initiated by former Sen. Sam Nunn, Georgia Democrat, and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, is a cornerstone of nonproliferation. We are pleased that the program has funded the dismantling of a large number of nuclear-powered submarines.

The EU Northern Dimension’s Environmental Partnership has established a support fund for financing projects on nuclear safety and security in the High North. The second Northern Dimension Action Plan 2004-06, adopted in June 2003, highlights the challenges to nuclear safety, particularly in northwest Russia.

The signing earlier this year of the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation adds momentum to the dismantling of nuclear submarines, increases nuclear reactor safety and helps in the handling of radioactive waste.

Good and stable relations with Russia give hope for a better future. Yet, we, as representatives of the Nordic and Baltic electorates, still harbor concern. Russian democracy and transparency is a prerequisite also in our common struggle to impede the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russian democracy must deepen. Infringements on press freedom must be taken seriously. Otherwise, our struggle is at risk.

The Russian Federation is not the only player of significance in our wider region. Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have expertise on weapons of mass destruction. Western countries must not neglect these states in the aftermath of successful enlargements of the European Union and NATO. We should contribute to bringing them in as reliable and constructive partners in dealing with a range of complicated issues such as preventingthespreadof weapons of mass destruction.

In November 2003, an interparliamentary conference on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction convened at the European ParliamentinStrasbourg, France. Here, members of parliaments of a great number of nations pledged their willingness to contribute to the G8 Global Partnership.

The parliaments of the Nordic and Baltic countries would go a step further and point to concrete objectives that should serve as guides for a coherent policy of nonproliferation.

First, we must achieve universal adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We must strengthen these regimes, in particular, the verification mechanisms. Second, we must strengthen the missile nonproliferation regime and address noncompliance with relevant international treaties. Third, we must make sure that nonstrategic nuclear weapons are included in the disarmament process. Last, and most important of all, we must strengthen our common goal of general and irreversible disarmament and nonproliferation of nuclear, biologicalandchemical weapons.

JENS HALD MADSEN

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Denmark)

MARKO MIHKELSON

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Estonia)

LIISA JAAKONSAARI

Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Finland)

SOLVEIG PETURSDOTTIR

Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Iceland)

INESE VAIDERE

Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Latvia)

GEDIMINAS KIRKILAS

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Lithuania)

THORBJORN JAGLAND

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Norway)

URBAN AHLIN

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Sweden)

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