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UN chief congratulates US, Russia on nuclear arsenal cuts, urges further disarmament

Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Violaine Martin (file)
Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Violaine Martin (file)
5 February 2018 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday congratulated the United States and Russia on successfully reducing their strategic nuclear forces to the level required by a new bilateral treaty signed in 2010, calling on both sides to engage in the necessary dialogue that will lead to further arsenal reductions.

“The Secretary-General stresses that at a time when global anxieties about nuclear weapons are higher than at any time since the Cold War, efforts in nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control are more vital than ever,” said a statement issued by his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

“These endeavors can play significant roles in building trust and confidence, and preventing, mitigating and resolving conflicts,” the statement added.

Known as “New START,” the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms reduces deployed nuclear weapons to 700 delivery vehicles and 1,550 warheads.

It is a part of a series of bilateral nuclear arms control agreements between the two nations that “have significantly reduced the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and are steps towards the common aspiration of a world free of nuclear weapons,” the statement noted.

Mr. Guterres called on them “to engage in the necessary dialogue that will lead to further arsenal reductions” and “to continue to display the historic leadership across the multilateral disarmament agenda that has proven so valuable to our collective security,” the statement said.

The new Treaty was signed in Prague on 8 April, 2010 and came into force on 5 February, 2011.



Dialogue and confidence vital to prevent, resolve conflicts, says UN chief

Secretary-General António Guterres (left), alongside Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan, briefs the Security Council during its meeting on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Secretary-General António Guterres (left), alongside Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan, briefs the Security Council during its meeting on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
18 January 2018 – Worldwide concerns over nuclear weapons are the highest they have been since the Cold War, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Thursday, calling for comprehensive political solutions that include dialogue and negotiation to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts.

In cases involving weapons of mass destruction, “verifiable disarmament and non-proliferation” efforts are critical, stressed the UN chief, speaking alongside Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, at a high-level briefing in the Security Council on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

However, warning that confidence can be undermined by “bellicose rhetoric, confrontational approaches, the absence of communication channels, and inflexible positions,” Mr. Guterres underscored the importance of effective verification mechanisms.

“From the ground-breaking verification protocols of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, to the invaluable work undertaken by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), verification builds confidence,” he said.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General also expressed his belief that UN can play a central role in assisting its Member States to develop, augment and support confidence-building measures and that its position as an “honest broker” allows it to serve as a venue in which all parties can engage in dialogue.

The UN’s position as an “honest broker” allows us to act as a venue in which all parties can engage in dialogueSecretary-General Guterres

“Going forward, the Security Council, in particular, can provide leadership by demonstrating unity and continuing to highlight the importance of dialogue and diplomacy as an essential means for building confidence,” he said, adding that a measure all Member States can undertake is the universal and complete implementation of all disarmament and non-proliferation obligations.

Mr. Guterres went on to welcome the reopening of inter-Korean communication channels, especially the military-to-military one, and said that it is critical to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding and to reduce tensions.

“I am also encouraged by the decision of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in the Republic of Korea,” he said, calling for expansion of diplomatic efforts to achieve the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

At the same time, he added, that the firm decisions the Security Council taken in response to nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the DPRK in defiance of Council resolutions must be fully implemented.

Unity within the Security Council vital

The UN chief also highlighted the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme and said that multilateral agreement, which is in the interest of the Iranian people and the international community at large, should be preserved.

Turning to the Syrian conflict where the use of chemical weapons has challenged the “global taboo” against these weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Guterres said that if the use of chemical weapons in the country is once again determined, the international community “needs to find an appropriate way to identify those responsible and hold them to account.”

“Without such an avenue, we are allowing the use of chemical weapons to take place with impunity,” he stressed urging for unity within the Security Council on the issue.

The Security Council meeting today on the theme of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: confidence-building measures was convened by Kazakhstan in its capacity as the President of the Security Council for the month of January.

Later in the day, Mr. Guterres met with President Nazarbayev, and commended Kazakhstan on the agenda of its Presidency in the Security Council, as well as its constructive cooperation with the United Nations, including the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).

According to a UN spokesman, the two discussed developments in the region as well as the Astana Process [Syrian peace talks led by Iran, Turkey, and Russia in the Kazakh capital], while underscoring the lead role of the Geneva political process [of intra-Syrian talks].

The Secretary-General also expressed condolences to the families of the victims of today’s bus fire in Kazakhstan. According to reports, some 52 people were killed after a bus they were travelling in caught fire in Kazakhstan’s north-western Aktau region.



UN chief welcomes second anniversary of ‘Implementation Day’ for Iran nuclear deal

The Busher nuclear power plant in Iran. Photo: IAEA/Paolo Contri
The Busher nuclear power plant in Iran. Photo: IAEA/Paolo Contri
17 January 2018 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday welcomed the second anniversary of the day when Iran was confirmed to have taken a series of nuclear-related actions under the nuclear agreement reached with key countries in 2015.

“This marks another significant milestone” in the historic agreement, said UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in a statement, noting that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – reached by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union – constitutes a major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security.

The day, known as “Implementation Day,” occurred on 16 January 2016 when the Security Council received the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming that Iran has taken a series of nuclear-related actions specified in the JCPOA’s annex.

“The Secretary-General remains convinced that the JCPOA is the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and to realize the promised tangible economic benefits for the Iranian people,” Mr. Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General calls for concerns regarding its implementation to be addressed through the mechanisms established by the agreement,” and “believes that issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments,” Mr. Dujarric added.