Vienna/New York, 28 September 2012 Press release

Spindelegger: "Nuclear terrorism is a constant threat in the 21st Century"

High-level UN meeting on nuclear terrorism discusses ways of prevention

Vienna/New York, 28 September 2012 – “Austria is committed to continuing its contribution to the international measures taken against the threat of nuclear terrorism in future. Preventing the development of breeding grounds for terrorism and radicalisation is the most essential approach with a long-term effect in this central challenge of our times”, Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said at a panel discussion on nuclear terrorism convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

The Vice-Chancellor referred to Austria’s active role in the understanding between nations, for example in the Alliance of Civilisations and the interreligious dialogue; understanding between nations helps to prevent radicalisation and readiness for terrorism. He also underlined the Austrian approach to nuclear energy as a preventive measure against the specific threat of nuclear terrorism. “Austria has taken the considered step of renouncing nuclear power stations to ensure the population is not subjected to the risks of nuclear technology which are ultimately uncontrollable. This also means that potential terrorists have no nuclear arsenal available”, Spindelegger said. “This preventive approach should also be applied for nuclear weapons. There are still thousands of nuclear weapons whose mere existence is a massive threat to humanity and a permanent potential source of nuclear terrorism. We should no longer accept this permanent risk in the 21st century.”

Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger also listed a series of measures that could be taken to counter the threats connected with nuclear energy. Countries engaging in nuclear activities should put these under effective multilateral control to ensure the highest international safety standards and mitigate risks, such as nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists. “The important role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its international agreements and recommendations for global safety standards cannot be rated highly enough in this context. All states should adhere to the IAEA standards and accede to the anti-terrorism agreements of the United Nations and implement them. This would be a decisive progress in countering the risk of nuclear terrorism“, the Vice-Chancellor said.

Spindelegger also referred to the ongoing conflict concerning the nuclear plans of Iran in this context: “With its refusal to provide clarification about its nuclear programme, Iran is contributing to a de-stabilisation of the entire region. The window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution is still open, however. The EU thus intends to gradually increase the pressure of sanctions to dissuade Iran from its unacceptable stalling tactics.”

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