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Top UN officials hail new Russian-US nuclear arms reduction treaty

Top UN officials hail new Russian-US nuclear arms reduction treaty

US President Barack Obama (left) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign nuclear treaty
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog have welcomed the new treaty signed today by the leaders of Russia and the United States by which they pledged to slash their nuclear arsenals by a third.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban lauded the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (known as the New START Treaty) as “an important milestone in the international efforts to advance nuclear disarmament and to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in the Czech capital, Prague, just days after Mr. Obama announced his new policy on restricting the US use of nuclear weapons as an important initiative towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.

“Reducing the role and numbers of nuclear weapons is a positive step towards a safe and peaceful world free of nuclear weapons which can impact positively on nuclear non-proliferation efforts,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Welcoming the disarmament efforts reflected in the 2010 US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), Mr. Amano added that he is “encouraged by recognition in the NPR of the need to strengthen IAEA safeguards, and the commitment expressed by the United States to expanding financial support for the agency.”

Earlier this week, Mr. Ban voiced his hope that the NPR and the new Russian-US treaty will help keep the positive momentum in the lead-up to the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit, to be held in Washington on 12 April, and the Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT Review Conference), slated for early next month in New York.

“The Secretary-General believes that the Washington summit next week is taking place at an opportune moment which will address daunting challenges facing the global nuclear non-proliferation regime,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.

Mr. Ban plans to attend the summit, where he will highlight the importance of coordination of global efforts at the national, regional and international level to address existing challenges, including strengthening international conventions and institutions.