World on brink of new nuclear arms race, top Kazakh official warns UN

27 September 2008

With the world on the precipice of a new rush to boost arms supplies, reaching consensus on nuclear disarmament is more critical than ever, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.

“As known, history may repeat itself, if we do not properly learn its lessons. Therefore, nuclear disarmament and enhanced non-proliferation regimes should unconditionally become a priority for all,” Marat Tazhin said at the 192-member body’s annual high-level debate.

Speaking as a country that voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, Kazakhstan stresses that it is “absolutely imperative” that the United Nations-backed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is adjusted in line with new realities, he said.

The Minister called on Member States to take urgent action to ensure that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) enters into force, which will require ratification by nine more countries.

That pact’s verification mechanism must also be strengthened, he said, noting the activities currently under way at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground, the site of nearly 500 nuclear blasts.

Mr. Tazhin also cautioned on the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, adding that Kazakhstan takes part in efforts to curb nuclear terrorism, having hosted a global gathering on physically protecting nuclear material.

 

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