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Nuclear Disarmament, Non-proliferation Need Action

Nuclear Disarmament And Non-proliferation Require Action From Everyone – Annan

New York, May 2 2005 2:00PM

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today challenged the parties to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to recognize that disarmament, halting the spread of nuclear weapons and the right to peaceful use are all vital – and far too important to be held hostage to the politics of the past.

“If we are truly committed to a nuclear weapon-free world, we must move beyond rhetorical flourish and political posturing, and start to think seriously about how to get there,” Mr. Annan said in an opening address to the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT. “I challenge you to recognize that [disarmament, non-proliferation and the right to peaceful uses] impose responsibilities on all States.”

An important step would be for former Cold War rivals to commit themselves irreversibly to further cuts in their arsenals, so that warheads number in the hundreds, not in the thousands. “We can only hope to achieve such major reductions if every State has a clear and reliable picture of the fissile material holdings of every other State, and if every State is confident that this material in other States is secure,” he said.

The Conference, which kicked off today at UN Headquarters in New York and will run through 27 May, brings together top officials every five years to review the status of the NPT, the world’s most widely adhered-to multilateral disarmament accord, with 188 States parties , including the five declared nuclear-weapon States.

Recalling the horrific explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which had ushered in the nuclear age, the Secretary-General painted a dire picture of “chaos and confusion” in the immediate aftermath if such a nuclear catastrophe were to occur in a major city today. “Tens of thousands of people would die in an instant, and many more would die from exposure to radiation,” he said, adding that carefully nurtured collective security mechanisms could also be discredited.

In the 35 years since entering into force, the landmark NPT has “confounded the dire predictions of its critics,” Mr. Annan said, noting that nuclear weapons have not spread to dozens of States and that indeed, more States have given up their ambitions for such weapons than have acquired them. A watchful eye has also been kept on the supply of materials to make nuclear weapons, and recent steps had been taken to dismantle weapons and reduce stockpiles.

“The global non-proliferation norm has been firmly established,” he said, but added: “We cannot afford to be complacent. The plain fact is that the regime has not kept pace with the march of technology and globalization, and developments of many kinds in recent years have placed it under great stress.”

But Mr. Annan said that he firmly believed “our generation can build a world of ever-expanding development, security and human rights – a world ‘in larger freedom,’” echoing the UN Charter and the title of his recent comprehensive agenda for UN reform.

He urged State parties to ensure that measures for compliance are made more effective, to maintain confidence that States are living up to their obligations. They must also act to reduce the threat of proliferation not only to States, but to non-state actors. “As the dangers of such proliferation have become clear, so has the universal obligation for all States to establish effective national controls and enforcement measures,” he said.

“The obligation therefore falls on all States – nuclear and non-nuclear alike – to increase transparency and security,” he declared. “Indeed, unless all States recognize that disarmament, like non-proliferation, requires action from everyone, the goal of general and complete disarmament will remain a distant dream.”

ENDS

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