Spotlighting the current “crisis” in international efforts to address the world's nuclear arsenal, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on delegates attending a review conference in Vienna on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to demonstrate that progress is possible.
“I urge you to show the world what multilateral cooperation can achieve in building a safer world and advancing the interests and ideals of humanity,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the opening session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
“By looking both backward and forward, the process can help States parties to keep the Treaty in step with changing times, to strengthen accountability of States Parties and to promote constructive engagement with civil society,” he said, according to the text of the message, which was to be delivered by Hannelore Hoppe, Officer-in-Charge of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.
Mr. Ban paid tribute to the Treaty, noting that it commits the nuclear-weapon States to disarmament, while affirming the inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, consistent with other treaty obligations.
But at the same time, he called attention to the many obstacles facing efforts to address the nuclear issue. Mr. Ban's message marked the first from any UN Secretary-General to an NPT Preparatory Committee, a step he called “necessary because of a persisting crisis of confidence in the treaty.”
The current stalemate on the nuclear issue is evidenced by the “disappointing outcome” of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, insufficient progress in nuclear disarmament, as well as a lack of universal adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreements – and cases of non-compliance, said the Secretary-General.
Nuclear tests were conducted as recently as 2006, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) faces difficulties. “Ongoing tests of nuclear-capable missiles, possible discrimination in peaceful nuclear cooperation and a failure to implement the proposal to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East have also raised serious concerns,” the Secretary-General observed.
Under the provisions of the Treaty, a review conference is held every five years.