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Symposium Highlights Arms Control

Experts at an international symposium in Beijing on Wednesday called on the global community to "make concerted efforts" on arms control and disarmament.

Around 40 experts from Germany, the US, Russia and China attended the two-day Chinese-German Symposium on International Security China, which opened on Tuesday with arms control at the top of the agenda.

Although the authority of the UN and other international organizations has been challenged by unilateral approaches and interventionism, it is still an "indispensable" institution for promoting arms control and disarmament, said Li Genxin, secretary general of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Acknowledging that little progress has been made in arms control since 2003, Li called for all countries, especially big powers, to "make active endeavors" in the area.

Jurgen Bornemann, a senior military official with the German Federal Ministry of Defense, said Germany and the EU were convinced that a multilateral approach to security, including arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, provides the best option to maintain international order and stability.

He ascribed the achievements of conventional arms control in Europe to "mutual trust and transparency."

For the German government, diplomatic and political measures are of particular importance in fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and delivery systems, he said.

Deborah Nutter, an international studies professor of Tufts University in Boston, said that "the United States believes military deterrence has a role to play on international issues."

Nutter argued that the US stance on arms control and disarmament was related to the nation's sense of vulnerability following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"Arms control and disarmament efforts still remain focused in US-Russia relations and in Europe," said Alexander Nikitin, director of the Center for Political and International Studies in Russia. "While in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where the conflicts, wars and terrorist challenges are concentrated, arms control elements remain extremely rare and disarmament remains rather limited."

Nikitin referred to the spheres of nuclear issues and contradictions as "less negotiable" than they were in the Cold War and Post-Cold War decades.

Some experts are also concerned about the revolution in military weapons, saying it would exert a profound impact on arms control and disarmament.

"Space-based weapons, deployment of missile defense systems and wide applications of sophisticated weapons would pose risks to the global strategic balance," said Li.

Li also voiced his concern that the increasing accessibility of high tech weapons to terrorists would make counter-proliferation even harder still.

(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2004)

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