By Ray Fleming

LOOKING at the British press and TV news coverage just now it might seem that the rest of the world has stopped turning until the result of the UK general election is known a week from today. In fact, the world is getting on with quite a lot of important business, including further efforts to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons, strategic and tactical. On Monday a major UN Conference will begin in New York to review progress under the treaty of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. President Ahmadinejad of Iran has announced that he will lead his country's delegation and his presence has heightened interest in what the conference might achieve. UN Secretary-General Ban KI-moon has called on Iran to recognise that it has not yet persuaded the rest of the world that its nuclear programme is wholly for peaceful use. President Ahmadinejad could use the occasion either to prove the truth of his many assertions of peaceful intentions or to inveigh against the current intentions of the Security Council to intensify sanctions for his failure to do so.

The year 2010 is proving to be one of welcome activity on nuclear issues, led by President Obama and complemented by Russia's constructive response. While next week's UN meeting should continue the progress, it will depend to some extent on the position taken by Iran and the readiness of the Security Council members to respond positively to any genuine proposals he makes.