Jayantha Dhanapala, United Nations under-secretary general for disarmament affairs, spoke to a crowded room at the Marvin Center Friday about controlling the spread of nuclear weapons.
His remarks came in the wake of President Clinton’s decision to lift the 6-month-old economic sanctions on India and Pakistan after both nations conducted nuclear tests.
The lecture entitled “The Future of the Nonproliferation Regime after the Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Tests,” was co-sponsored by the Elliott School of International Affairs and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.
“Nuclear disarmament consists of some of the most difficult issues on the public agenda,” Dhanapala said.
Since the Indian and Pakistani tests last May, the Nonproliferation Treaty – which allows only the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia to possess nuclear weapons – has been under tremendous stress, Dhanapala said.
“Predicting the future of the Nonproliferation Treaty is not easy,” he said. “It will be determined far less by words than by deeds.”
Dhanapala said if the United States and Russia adhered to the agreement, there would be an 80 percent reduction in the number of nuclear weapons from Cold War-era levels.
“The treaty has weathered its various storms,” he said. “But there are a few dark clouds and even some icebergs of titanic proportions.”
Carrie Lammers, associate director for external affairs in ESIA, said she was pleased with the large cross section of students, faculty and members of the arms control community.
“The room was diverse,” said Ronald Palmer, international affairs professor and former vice president of UNA. “My only regret was that the lecture was not presented on C-SPAN because it was so clear and presented in such a way that people could understand.”
UNA Organizer Sharon McHale said the purpose of the event was to “keep the harp playing” on issues of nonproliferation.
“The nonproliferation issue really is in the national interest,” McHale said. “There is a magnified proliferation of arms in cities and schools at the local level that parallels what is happening with proliferation at the international level.”
J. Brian Atwood, head of United States Agency for International Development, is tentatively scheduled to present the second lecture in the ESIA’s “Prominent Speaker Series” in January.
-Helder Gil contributed to this report.