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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 22 April 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks at event on "Preventing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction to Non-State Actors : The Implementation of Resolution 1540 (2004) in the Arab World"

I commend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for supporting the landmark Security Council resolution on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors. Resolution 1540 reflects our international resolve to prevent nuclear, chemical or biological attacks against civilians.

Weapons of mass destruction remain among the gravest security threats facing the world community – including the risk that these destructive weapons may be acquired and used by non-state actors.  The possibility that terrorist groups could obtain weapons of mass destruction should not be dismissed as a fiction. This is a horrific threat the international community should take seriously.

As long as these weapons exist, so, too, does the risk of their use – by accident or design.

Let me be clear: the most reliable way to prevent both the proliferation and use of these weapons is through their total and verified elimination. There are no “right hands” that can handle these “wrong weapons”.

I welcome stronger international measures to prevent terrorist groups and non-state actors from gaining access to the most lethal weapons and materials.

Bolstering rule of law in this field is essential.

At the same time, global cooperation in upholding resolution 1540 is vital in preventing WMD proliferation and terrorism. I appreciate the Security Council 1540 Committee’s contributions to this great cause. Participants at the nuclear security summit, both in Washington D.C. and Seoul, have expressed overwhelming support for the work of this resolution.

The United Nations and its Member States are working hard to ensure that weapons of mass destruction are never used again by anyone, anywhere.

Let me address the UN Mission to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. The team of experts is ready to deploy quickly as soon as we have the Syrian Government's consent. While the mission awaits consent from the Government, it has carried out fact-finding activities based on available information

All Member States can benefit from the 1540 Committee’s tailored assistance in helping them to implement the resolution.

Regional approaches can advance the goals of this resolution. So can the work of intergovernmental organizations with WMD disarmament and non-proliferation mandates.  They are promoting some of the best standards and experience available in the world community.

Scholars, activists, the business community and other individuals and civilian groups in civil society can be part of this effort.

We saw this at the first Civil Society Forum in support of Resolution 1540 in January. There, people from around the world gathered to express their strong opposition to WMDs. This followed last year’s conference of industry representatives to support resolution 1540. At both events, participants discussed concrete measures to stop the spread of WMDs.

This collective approach is critical. Weapons of mass destruction violate more than individual lives – they cross international borders and jeopardize all people. They also drain resources that could be used instead for medicines, schools and other life-saving supplies.

We must come together with even greater determination to prevent a WMD nightmare. 

Let us persist in our united efforts to eliminate all of these weapons from the face of the Earth.

Thank you.


Statements on 22 April 2013