Report Sounds Alarm on Lack of Will for Nuclear Disarmament

Nuclear armed countries - including the US - are at best only paying lip service to the promise of President Barack Obama to rid the world of atomic bombs.

The findings come in a ''report card'' into the almost 18,000-strong global arsenal of nuclear warheads and is a brainchild of former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans.

The report claims early optimism for disarmament after Mr Obama won power all but evaporated, with the nuclear-weapons programs in India, Pakistan, and China actually accelerating in recent years.

The US deployed extra missile interceptors on its west coast at the weekend, adding to fears the nuclear option is no longer seen as a weapon of last resort.

Adding to concern over the nuclear intentions of North Korea and Iran, the report also warns the computer systems in control of existing nuclear weapons could be vulnerable to cyber attack.

''The unhappy reality is that while nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat to humanity, progress on their abolition, and on strengthening barriers to their proliferation, remains achingly slow,'' the report notes.

Even a ''limited'' regional nuclear war would have catastrophic consequences.

The report, Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play, to be launched in Geneva this week, is a follow on to an extensive study sponsored by Australia and Japan in 2009.

The report - produced by Professor Evans and the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in Canberra - notes there are already extensive ideas set out for eliminating nuclear threats. But it bemoans the lack of political will ''to walk us away from the edge of the nuclear cliff''.

By Daniel Flitton. Originally published on The Sydney Morning Herald National Times.

The report "Nuclear Weapons: The State Of Play" can be downloaded here.

PN member Professor Gareth Evans is Chancellor of the Australian National University. As a member of the International Task Force on Preventive Diplomacy, composed of 24 outstanding experts and practitioners in the field of conflict prevention and resolution, he was one of the initiators of the Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention.