With the curtain on a major non-proliferation summit set to rise tomorrow at United Nations Headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for a renewed global commitment towards nuclear disarmament.
“Our shared vision is within reach” for a nuclear-free world, Mr. Ban told a gathering last night at Riverside Church in New York.
“We know the world is watching,” he added. “Let it heed our call. Disarm now!”
Representatives from more than 100 countries, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are slated to attend the latest five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), starting tomorrow in New York.
“We know that nuclear disarmament is not a distant, unattainable dream,” the Secretary-General said at last night's event. “It is an urgent necessity, here and now. We are determined to achieve it.”
He pointed that this almost become a reality more than two decades ago when the leaders of the United States and the then-Soviet Union came very close to agreeing to eliminate nuclear weapons.
“It was a dramatic reminder of how far we can go – as long as we have the vision and the will,” the Secretary-General, who has made nuclear disarmament a top priority since his first day in office, underscored.
The last NPT review conference in 2005, he said, failed “utterly,” and the world cannot afford to fail again given that there more than 25,000 nuclear weapons on the planet and nuclear terrorism continues to pose a threat.
Further, the UN chief said, these has been no movement in setting up a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, while the nuclear plans of Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) are complicating global efforts to curb proliferation.
But there is cause for renewed optimism today, he underscored, thanks to a series of recent events, including the announcement by the US of its nuclear posture and the conclusion of a US-Russia START treaty accompanied by serious cuts in their arsenals.
Mr. Ban said that at the upcoming review conference, which runs from 3-28 May, he plans to call on all countries, especially the nuclear-weapons States, to pursue a treaty on disarmament under international control, as stipulated by the NPT.
“These negotiations are long overdue,” he underscored. “We should not have unrealistic expectations for the conference. But neither can we afford to lower our sights.”
The Secretary-General added, “what I see on the horizon is a world free of nuclear weapons.”