The world could face “a cascade of nuclear proliferation” unless it takes concerted action to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading to other States or falling into the hands of terrorist networks, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today in a message marking the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Although no nuclear weapon had been used again, “We are witnessing continued efforts to strengthen and modernize nuclear arsenals – and [face] the risk that such weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors,” Mr. Annan said in a message to a Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan, delivered by Nobuyasu Abe, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.
“Without concentrated action, we may face a cascade of nuclear proliferation,” Mr. Annan said, stressing that revelations of clandestine networks trafficking in nuclear materials and technology have exposed a major loophole in the international non-proliferation regime.
Expressing his disappointment that the 2005 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, held at UN Headquarters this past May, ended with no substantive agreement, Mr. Annan urged all States to redouble their efforts in working toward a world free of nuclear dangers, and ultimately, of nuclear weapons.
He also challenged world leaders, due to gather at next month's 2005 World Summit in New York, to use the occasion to break the deadlock on the most pressing challenges in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
“Today, we recall the tragedies that occurred here and in Nagasaki: we resolve to act on the lessons of those terrible events; we reiterate our determination to spare no effort to build a world free of nuclear weapons,” the message said.