Stressing that nuclear weapons remain an “apocalyptic threat,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged parties to a United Nations-backed global non-proliferation treaty to push for progress and set out a course towards achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.
“We cannot afford to place disarmament and non-proliferation on a backburner,” Mr. Ban said as he welcomed delegates to the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
“Let us not be lulled into complacency. Let us not miss the opportunity to make our societies safer and more prosperous,” he added.
Mr. Ban noted that for too long, the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda has been “stagnating in a Cold War mentality.” The 2005 NPT Review Conference ended in “disappointment” and the UN World Summit outcome contained not even a single line on weapons of mass destruction.
But there have been some changes recently, he said, recalling the joint commitment announced last month by Russian President Medvedev and United States President Obama to take concrete steps to fulfil their obligations under the NPT, which forms the foundation of the world’s nuclear non-proliferation regime.
In addition, he encouraged Iran’s leaders to continue their cooperation with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to demonstrate the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
Mr. Ban also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the Six-Party talks, which he believed is the best mechanism to achieve the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.
“I also urge all States to end the stalemate that has marked the international disarmament machinery for too long,” he stated. “To strengthen the NPT regime, it is essential that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty enters into force without further delay, and that the Conference on Disarmament begins negotiations on a verifiable fissile material treaty.”
Mr. Ban stressed that the current preparatory session must generate agreements on key procedural issues and substantive recommendations to next year’s Review Conference. The Conference, in turn, must produce a clear commitment by all NPT States parties to comply fully with all of their obligations under this vital Treaty.
“If you can set us on a course towards achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, you will send a message of hope to the world,” he told the gathering.