Nuclear arms watchdog group gives North Korea failing grade
Oct 28, 2010, 0:19 GMT
Washington - North Korea has served as a key supplier of nuclear weapons related material to other countries and has increased the threat of proliferation in Asia and the Middle East, a US-based nuclear watchdog organization said Wednesday.
The Arms Control Association (ACA), a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting arms control policies, said that Pyongyang has failed to comply with international standards on nuclear issues and security as it has test detonated two atomic weapons.
ACA issued its first-ever report that grades declared nuclear states and other countries believed to possess or be pursuing nuclear weapons. There were 11 countries included in the assessment.
North Korea received an 'F' grade, the worst mark on the scale borrowed from the US academic system. No country received an 'A,' the highest grade.
Iran and Syria, two countries that are not known to have nuclear weapons but are suspected of trying to acquire them, both received 'D' grades, mainly for failing to adhere to international safeguard agreements and having weak controls to ensure material cannot be exported.
The grades were assigned by measuring countries across 10 universally recognized nonproliferation, disarmament and nuclear security categories during the last 18 months, ACA said.
The traditional nuclear powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - received 'B' grades. China and Britain were faulted for failing to reduce nuclear weapons levels. The United States was criticized for keeping its nuclear weapons fleet on a rather high level of launch readiness.
The ACA praised the United States and Russia for signing a new nuclear arms reduction treaty to lower their numbers of warheads.
India and Pakistan received low marks, only a slight notch above Iran and Syria, because both - along with Israel - have refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, reduce nuclear stockpiles or end production of the fissile material used in nuclear weapons.
Israel, which has never acknowledged its possession of nuclear weapons but is believed to have about 200 warheads, received an average 'C' mark. Israel was criticized for failing to halt production of fissile material and not taking steps to reduce the number of weapons, but received high scores when it came to keeping its programme safe.