As world leaders gather today in Washington for the start of a nuclear security summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he will urge those leaders to come together to rein in nuclear proliferation and prevent extremists from acquiring atomic weapons.
“Nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats we face today,” the Secretary-General told reporters in New York before heading to the summit, which is being hosted by United States President Barack Obama.
“That is why, in Washington, I will call on all world leaders to come together, perhaps at the United Nations in September, to further advance this essential cause for humankind.”
Nearly 50 representatives of countries and international institutions have arrived for the two-day summit to discuss ways to secure weapons-useable nuclear material.
Speaking to reporters today, Mr. Ban reiterated his call on the UN’s Conference on Disarmament – the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating body – “to immediately start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.”
Mr. Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (known as the News START Treaty) last week, promising to slash their nuclear arsenal by one-third.
Mr. Ban praised the move, calling it “an important milestone in the international efforts to advance nuclear disarmament and to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”
In a symbolic move during his visit to Central Asia last week, Mr. Ban flew to a former Soviet nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, where he welcomed Mr. Obama’s new policy on restricting the use of nuclear weapons by the US.
While in Semipalatinsk, Mr. Ban said he would use the nuclear summit in Washington to urge the leaders of Russia, the US and other nuclear States to abandon all nuclear weapons.
“To realize a world free of nuclear weapons is a top priority of the United Nations and the most ardent aspiration of human beings,” he said.