General Assembly seeks to minimize threat posed by nuclear weapons

6 December 2007

To address the dangers posed by thousands of nuclear weapons that still remain on high alert years after the end of the Cold War, the General Assembly has called for further practical steps to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, acting on the recommendation of its committee devoted to disarmament and global security matters.

The Assembly made the call in one of 51 texts presented by the First Committee and adopted by the 192-member body yesterday; 32 of them were passed by recorded votes including those relating to missiles, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and preventing an arms race in outer space.

In adopting the resolution on decreasing operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, the Assembly recognized that maintaining these systems at a high level of readiness increased the risk of their use, including unintentional or accidental use, with catastrophic consequences.

In a related action, the Assembly, considering that the hair-trigger alert of nuclear weapons carried unacceptable risks, called for urgent steps to reduce the dangers of those weapons’ unintentional and accidental use.

By that text, entitled “Reducing nuclear danger,” the Assembly also called on the five main nuclear-weapon States – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – to take steps towards de-alerting and de-targeting their nuclear weapons.

In addition, Member States were requested to take measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to promote nuclear disarmament, with the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.

Among the other texts adopted by the Assembly were those relating to arms control, preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the dumping of radioactive wastes, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.