- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

Cloning conference
A two-week conference to discuss a treaty to ban human cloning ended Friday without an agreement on how to proceed.
There is a firm and unanimous agreement that the reproductive cloning of human beings is wrong and must be prohibited because of ethical, moral, religious, scientific concerns, said Slovenian Ambassador Peter Tomka, chairman of the group convened to resolve differences on the issue.
However, the scope of that ban was the subject of rancorous debate in the legal committee of the General Assembly, one that again pits the United States against many of its traditional allies.
Germany and France have submitted a draft that effectively would allow the procedure for therapeutic and scientific pursuits, such as developing the stem cells that can be used to produce medications. This position, supported by at least 50 nations, explicitly condemns reproduction.
The United States, however, advocates a ban on all human cloning experiments, regardless of the intent. U.S. representatives say that an exemption for therapeutic cloning efforts would make the ban impossible to enforce.
The United States "believes that creating and destroying human embryos for experimentation is equally wrong," said Sichan Siv, the U.S. envoy for economic and social issues. "Once cloned human embryos were available, it would be virtually impossible to control what was done with them, including bringing one to term."
Mr. Siv also stressed on Friday that animal cloning would not be affected by the U.S. proposal, which closely tracks the Vatican's position. The use of adult stem cells in research would not be affected either, he said.
But Germany, which has most of the European Union behind it, warned last week that research was progressing faster than the legislation to regulate it. For example, said German envoy Christian Much, two doctors have announced that they are a year or two away from the birth of the world's first cloned child.
Holding out for a comprehensive agreement, he said, would waste too much time.
"An all-out approach that leads to nothing benefits … irresponsible researchers, fraudulent doctors and obscure religious sects," Mr. Much said
He said that scientists in countries with no regulation had reached "a high degree" of sophistication in their labs.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference also appears to support the U.S. position.
"It is believed that with the completion of the draft, negotiations should continue to address the issues relating to therapeutic cloning," said Sudanese Ambassador Elfatih Erwa on behalf of the 56-member group.

Kosovo trip postponed
The U.N. Security Council has postponed indefinitely a field trip to Kosovo out of concern that members would not finish the Iraq resolution before the planned departure on Friday.
The three-day mission to Kosovo and Belgrade had been suggested by Russia. The visit would have coincided with elections in the province, which has been governed by the United Nations since NATO's air attacks three years ago. The 11-week assault ended a Yugoslav army campaign against ethnic Albanians.
Council diplomats expect the United States and Britain to put forward formally a resolution by the end of the week to return weapons inspectors to Baghdad.

He went postal
North Korea was certainly in the headlines last week, and so was a Korean man who recently leaped over the U.N. fence to protest Pyongyang's human rights violations.
The family of Steven Kim, the Illinois postal worker who fired seven shots into the air on Oct. 3, held a press conference last week to plead for leniency.
"He had absolutely no intention of hurting anybody," said his son, Steven Kim Jr. "My dad is absolutely against violence."
Mr. Kim, 57, faces as many as 15 years in jail on various charges, including carrying a firearm and attacking foreign officials. He has been held without bail since the incident.
The U.N. security detail immediately began installing a second fence, this one of chain links, behind the decorative perimeter fence so easily scaled by Mr. Kim.
But its value is suspect: Ten days ago, two young men, apparently as a prank, were found trespassing on the U.N. grounds taking pictures of each other. They, too, were arrested but face considerably less serious charges.
Betsy Pisik may be reached via e-mail at UNear@aol.com.

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