The review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered its second day today at United Nations Headquarters with speakers taking up issues ranging from the Middle East, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to practical measures towards disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
Nearly 40 speakers are expected to address the five-yearly NPT review today, a day after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering that the world is looking at the participants to take decisive steps to build a safer world for everyone.
“We have a choice: to leave a legacy of fear and inaction… or to act with vision, courage and leadership,” he said yesterday.
Many speakers during today’s session urged action on several fronts, such as making the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and finding peaceful applications for nuclear energy and technology.
In a speech today in New York to the Mayors for Peace, a grouping of officials from 3,880 cities in 143 countries, Mr. Ban reiterated his calls for non-proliferation efforts and disarmament.
“We reduce the risk of nuclear weapons to zero by reducing the number of nuclear weapons to zero,” the Secretary-General said, adding that the UN should be the new “ground zero” for nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Ban said he is “humbled” to carry this message with him when he visits Japan in August as the first Secretary-General to personally participate in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony.
The trip has particular importance to the Mayors for Peace. The organization was started by Takeshi Araki, the former mayor of Hiroshima, and expanded worldwide with the help of his counterpart in Nagasaki.
The Mayors for Peace group is expected to reach 5,000 members this year, representing one billion people, as Mr. Ban noted, calling the organization “the kind of solid political foundation” needed to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.
“I feel a deep duty to advance, by any practical means I can, the great cause of nuclear disarmament… so that nobody ever needs to fear another such attack,” Mr. Ban stressed.
Disarmament has been one of his main priorities since taking office. In 2008, he launched his five-point plan on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, which includes legal obligations for disarmament, including the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
“As I said yesterday, we need to think very seriously about setting a time frame for ratification – and about an alternative mechanism that might get us there,” Mr. Ban said, paraphrasing his remarks yesterday to the NPT review conference.
He is scheduled today to speak with many of the high-level officials in bilateral meetings.
This evening, Mr. Ban will be joined by UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas and Tibor Toth, Executive Director of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) at the opening of a special exhibition at the UN Headquarters in New York entitled Putting an End to Nuclear Explosions.