U.N. Chief Says Global Nuclear Disarmament is Achievable

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday emphasized the importance of the global community working together to realize the dream of total nuclear disarmament, the United Nations said (see GSN, Oct. 13).

"We know that the world of tomorrow is shaped by the decisions we make today. A world free of nuclear weapons is a concrete possibility," the U.N. secretary general said in a statement at an arms control forum in New York.

"Let us realize that dream so that 7 billion people can live in peace and security," Ban continued.

Ban is advocating a five-step nuclear disarmament program that encompasses improved security, a program for authenticating steps taken by nations, and creating a law-based infrastructure to cover issues including the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Ban advocated new caps on the top nuclear-weapon stockpiles, held by Russia and the United States.

"This should include limits on both nonstrategic nuclear weapons and nondeployed weapons. And by weapon reduction, I mean weapon destruction," Ban said to conference attendees.

"We need a significant improvement in transparency," the U.N. chief said. "Too little is known about existing stockpiles of weapons, fissile materials and delivery systems."

He also urged the entry into force as quickly as feasible of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and promoting "rule of law issues" at the international Conference on Disarmament, where work has been stalled for more than a decade (see GSN, Oct. 11).

"For too long, this vital body has been paralyzed by differing priorities. It is stumbling into irrelevance. This does credit to no one. It must fulfill its responsibility to act," Ban said of the 65-member body (United Nations release I, Oct. 24).

The conference is the world's only multinational body designated to negotiate disarmament treaties. The last pact to be negotiated by the forum was the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The conference makes decisions by consensus, and a proposed work plan covering a fissile materials cutoff treaty and other matters has been opposed by Pakistan.

The U.N. General Assembly's First Committee on Monday received two resolutions that offered different plans for ending the gridlock within the Conference on Disarmament.

A joint resolution by South Africa, Switzerland and the Netherlands calls for the General Assembly to "reiterate its grave concern about the current status of the disarmament machinery, including the lack of substantive progress in the Conference on Disarmament for more than a decade, and stress the need for greater efforts and flexibility to advance multilateral disarmament negotiations," according to a General Assembly release.

"It would recognize the need to take stock, during the current session, of all relevant efforts to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, and at its next session, to review progress made in the implementation of the present resolution and, if necessary, to further explore options for taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations," the release states.

Another joint resolution by Austria, Norway and Mexico calls on the General Assembly to direct participant nations at the Conference on Disarmament to attempt in 2012 to break through the impasse; if that could not be accomplished the General Assembly would at its fall 2012 session explore options for creating open-ended discussion units to tackle nuclear disarmament.

The committee also received a draft resolution from Egypt for a ban on nuclear arms in the Middle East (see GSN, Oct. 17; U.N. General Assembly release, Oct. 24).

October 25, 2011
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U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday emphasized the importance of the global community working together to realize the dream of total nuclear disarmament, the United Nations said (see GSN, Oct. 13).