Secretary-General welcomes Russian, US nuclear commitments

3 April 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the commitments made by the leaders of Russia and the United States to accomplish nuclear disarmament and intensify nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

Under the 1 April Joint Statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama, the two countries will take concrete steps to fulfil their obligations under the UN-backed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which forms the foundation of the world's nuclear non-proliferation regime.

In a statement issued today by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said that their leadership is “vital to the process leading the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”

Along with their commitment to this goal, the Secretary-General said other “significant undertakings” include the presidents' pledge to realize reductions in their strategic offensive arsenals by replacing the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with a new, legally binding pact.

The statement noted that Mr. Ban is encouraged by the leaders' efforts to overcome difference pertaining to missile defence deployment, welcoming their commitment to further strengthening the NPT, the global regime for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the means of delivery of these weapons.

He also welcomed the leaders' declaration of support for the Security Council resolution on preventing non-State actors from obtaining WMD-related materials and technologies.

“The promotion of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, heightened efforts to make nuclear weapons and materials secure, and to combat nuclear terrorism will contribute to addressing important nuclear challenges,” he noted.

As depository of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT), which outlaws all nuclear explosions and establishes a verification regime to monitor compliance, the Secretary-General said that he is “particularly pleased” by Mr. Obama's confirmation that he will work towards US ratification of the pact, which Russia has already done.

Mr. Ban has repeatedly appealed to the members of the Conference on Disarmament – the world's only multilateral disarmament negotiating forum – to break their deadlock and move to the negotiations phase, including on a treaty banning the production of fissile material. The Conference has not been able to agree on a programme of work for 10 years.

Therefore, the Russian and US leaders' support for these negotiations is “most welcome,” the statement said.

Yesterday, the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said he believes the commitments by the two leaders will help move the world beyond the Cold War mentality.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said that the Joint Statement could also generate momentum towards the universal adherence to comprehensive safeguards agreements.


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