World must unite to eliminate proliferation of nuclear weapons, Latvian leader tells UN

President Andris Berzinš of Latvia. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

26 September 2012 – The international community must be united in its commitment to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Latvia’s President Andris Berzinš told the United Nations General Assembly today.

“The proliferation risk of weapons of mass destruction is one of the most serious global threats,” President Berzinš said, adding that Latvia is seriously concerned about potential stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria and the lack of progress in dialogue with Iran on the nature of its nuclear programme.

More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Syria since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began 18 months ago, and there have been concerns over the potential use of chemical weapons in the conflict. Iranian officials have stated that their country’s nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend it is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

“We call for strengthening efforts to reach the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its Action Plan,” he said. “In this regard, we applaud steps made by the United States and Russia towards global disarmament and transparency. We hope it will trigger further efforts to reduce the reliance on nuclear weapons.”

The NPT’s objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

President Berzinš also stated that countries need to implement coordinated policies to overcome the global economic and financial crisis. “The economy still remains fragile even if positive trends can be observed. Latvia welcomes all efforts to stabilize the situation in the Eurozone and supports the recent steps to ensure it,” he said.

He noted that despite the global economic crisis, Latvia’s gross domestic product grew by more than 5.5 per cent last year and its economy will be more competitive and prepared for the next growth cycle.

“What matters most, is the sustainability of economic health achieved along with the eurozone integration process,” the Latvian leader added. “Latvia believes that complications can be overcome and aims to introduce the Euro in 2014.”

President Berzinš is one of scores of heads of State and government and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.


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