Opportunity to rid world of nuclear weapons must be seized, Ban stresses

24 September 2009

The world must take advantage of the momentum generated by efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging the nine remaining countries which have yet to ratify the global pact which outlaws all nuclear explosions worldwide to do so.

“There is a new drive for peace,” Mr. Ban said at a gathering at UN Headquarters in New York to facilitate the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

“Yet this momentum is rare. It must be seized,” he stressed at the event, which took place shortly before the first-ever Security Council meeting on disarmament and non-proliferation chaired by United States President Barack Obama.

To date, the CTBT, which Mr. Ban characterized as the “fundamental building block” for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, has 181 signatories and the number of ratifications has reached 150, thanks to yesterday’s action by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

To enter into force, however, ratifications by nine countries – China, Egypt, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States – are necessary.

Today’s event, the sixth such conference, marked the first time the US has participated in a decade.

“Now is the time,” the Secretary-General, who himself served as the Chair of the CTBT Organization’s Preparatory Commission over a decade ago, emphasized at today’s conference. “Do not wait for the leadership of others. Show your own.”

He voiced hope that the next gathering will be to “celebrate this treaty’s entry into force and our world’s entry into a safer, more secure era for all.”

Also addressing today’s conference was Academy Award-winning actor and United Nations Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas who told reporters after the event that “there is a new wind blowing” for disarmament.

He stated that he is speaking “on behalf of people who are not diplomats but who can feel the new momentum” towards achieving peace.


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