8 January 2010

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in Meeting with Heads of Nuclear, Chemical Non-proliferation

Agencies, Cites ‘New Window of Opportunity’ for Disarmament


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a meeting with the heads of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO-PrepCom) in New York today, 8 January:

Happy New Year and welcome.  Thank you for being here. 

As you know, one of my first acts as Secretary-General was to restructure the office responsible for disarmament.  I wanted to generate greater momentum for the work of the United Nations in this vital area, and maximize the impact that I personally could play to advance this agenda.

Today there is a new window of opportunity in disarmament and non-proliferation.  I am convinced there is much we can do to achieve our common goal of a world free of weapons of mass destruction.  It is in that spirit that I wanted to bring all of you together. 

I highly appreciate your valuable work to achieve our common objectives, and I look forward to your perspectives:  the major challenges, existing gaps and how to bridge them, ideas on how we can foster greater understanding, cooperation and joint work.

Last year, we saw several encouraging developments.  This year, we have much on which to build -- and a heavy agenda going forward.  Major events ahead include, of course, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference in May.  The Treaty is facing a number of challenges.  A successful outcome would strengthen confidence not only in the Treaty but also for the collective global effort to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

Each of you has a vital role to play.  The International Atomic Energy Agency has made a considerable contribution to reducing the risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.  Concerns over the dangers of nuclear weapons proliferation have highlighted the importance of the Agency’s safeguards system and the need for universal adherence to the Additional Protocol.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for its part, continues to make significant progress. 

The Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO has laid the groundwork for the global verification regime to monitor compliance with the Treaty.  We need to continue our strong support so that it becomes effective without further delay.

I strongly believe in the mutual benefits of strengthened cooperation among our organizations, while fully respecting our distinct mandates and relationship agreements.  For my part, I can assure you that disarmament and non-proliferation will continue to be a top priority.

In the coming year, I will continue to build support for my Action Plan for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  I will promote the universality of the relevant treaties and conventions.  Building on the historic Security Council summit last September, I will encourage the Council to provide political support for the full implementation of treaty obligations and the strengthening of the treaty organs.  I will strengthen our outreach with civil society, including industries. 

To advance these goals, I will attend the upcoming session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva later this month -- the third consecutive year in which I have participated.  In February, I will attend the Global Zero Summit in Paris as well as the Munich Security Conference.  In April, I will attend the Summit on Nuclear Security in Washington.  These events will help generate momentum for the May NPT Review Conference.

In short, I pledge to continue to do everything in my power to advance the goal of a world free of weapons of mass destruction.  I look forward to working with all of you to make this a reality.  That is why I am so happy we are here together to strategize and think together. 

I welcome your views and insights.

The floor is open.

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For information media • not an official record