Britain Seeks New Talks Aimed at Ridding World of Nukes

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Wednesday called for new talks between major powers aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Miliband published a policy document calling for a resumption of debate on disarmament, despite the West's fears over Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon and over the prospects of terrorists acquiring access to the technology.

The British foreign policy chief said that he hopes the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France can begin talks aimed at the eventual elimination of all nuclear arsenals. He proposed a five-nation conference later this year to discuss how to work toward the goal.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. President Barack Obama have both called for new action to create a world free of nuclear weapons, Miliband said, in a foreword to the document.

"We need an assertive and cooperative strategy, founded on the premise that the goal of a nuclear weapons free world is achievable but it will require a long-term, sustained effort," he said.

Miliband set out a six-point plan calling for tougher anti-proliferation safeguards to prevent the spread of weapons rouge states or terrorists, new global cooperation to help supply developing countries with civilian nuclear energy programs and negotiations between the U.S. and Russia to agree significant reductions in their stockpiles.

He said there must be an extension of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty banning weapons tests, negotiations on prohibiting the further production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium and a new dialogue between the world's five major nuclear powers.

"Progress on these six steps would mark a decisive break from the deadlock of the past decade," Britain's Foreign Office said in the policy document.

Brown said last year that Britain hoped to lead efforts "to prevent proliferation to new states, and to ultimately achieve a world that is free from nuclear weapons." Britain has cut its stock of nuclear warheads from 200 to 160.

But Brown is pressing ahead with a $30 billion nuclear missile program to replace Britain's current fleet of four nuclear-armed submarines with new vessels.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said the Brown's commitment to replacing the nuclear-armed submarine fleet undermined hopes of leading diplomacy on disarmament.

"It undermines efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and totally ignores the fact that the greatest long-term security threat we face is climate change," Sauven said in a statement.