Despite Progress, Tens of Thousands of Nuclear Weapons Remain, Billions Spent to Modernize Them, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

19 April 2012

Despite Progress, Tens of Thousands of Nuclear Weapons Remain, Billions Spent to Modernize Them, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

19 April 2012
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Despite Progress, Tens of Thousands of Nuclear Weapons Remain, Billions Spent

to Modernize Them, Secretary-General Tells Security Council


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as delivered, to the Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and security, today, 19 April, in New York:

I commend the United States for convening this follow-up meeting to the Security Council Summit chaired by President [Barack] Obama in September 2009.  Many welcome developments have occurred since then.

The 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference adopted a 64-point Action Plan for nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  I look forward to constructive discussions at the first Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference which will start at the end of this month.

The Russian Federation and the United States are reducing their deployed nuclear arsenals under the New START Treaty — and together with other nuclear-weapon States they are undertaking consultations on implementing disarmament commitments and increasing transparency related to their nuclear arsenals.  For the first time, NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] has put the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world on its agenda.  The upcoming NATO summit in Chicago will be an important opportunity to develop a common approach.

There have also been innovative efforts by non-nuclear-weapon States.  These include:  Efforts to conclude a nuclear weapon convention backed by strong verification; the 10-nation Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative; the establishment of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy; and further progress to advance a Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.  We are also preparing for a Conference in Finland later this year on establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. 

The 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit agreed to a detailed work plan aimed at improving nuclear security, securing nuclear materials and preventing nuclear terrorism.  I welcome the new commitments at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit as well as the focused discussion on increasing the synergy between nuclear safety and security.  I thank President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea for his leadership.  At the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, I highlighted the need to strengthen our efforts to prevent the financing of proliferation as well as terrorism-related financing.  I am encouraged that today’s draft presidential statement recognizes the importance of “proliferation financing”. 

The Committee established by resolution 1540 (2004) is enhancing international cooperation to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  I commend the decision of the Council to extend the mandate of the Committee until April 2021.  To help strengthen the legal framework for preventing nuclear terrorism, I will convene a high-level event this fall to promote the universal adherence and full implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

In spite of progress, much work remains.  Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons continue to threaten humanity.  Billions of dollars are being spent to modernize them, despite pressing social needs and growing global expectations for progress in disarmament.  Sixteen years after its adoption by the General Assembly, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has not yet entered into force.  I warmly welcome the ratification by Indonesia and call on all other Annex 2 States to follow suit.

Meanwhile, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) remains deadlocked.  Let me repeat:  The current stalemate is unacceptable.  If the Conference cannot begin work this year, then the General Assembly must exercise its primary responsibility in carrying forward the disarmament process.  To facilitate negotiations in the CD, the five nuclear-weapon States may consider “elaborating elements” on a fissile material (cut-off) treaty.  As Secretary-General, I am willing to consider establishing a group of eminent persons to help in this task.

The tragic nuclear accident at Fukushima underscored the urgent need to enhance nuclear safety and the international emergency response framework.  I commend the International Atomic Energy Agency for its work.  At the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, I set out five areas to strengthen the global nuclear safety regime and promote synergy between nuclear safety and nuclear security.  The Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference recognized the importance of addressing these challenges and sharing best practices.  The First Preparatory Committee of the 2015 NPT Review Conference should devote specific time to these issues. 

Let me also stress the importance of full compliance with Security Council resolutions.  I welcome the Council presidential statement of 16 April which strongly condemned the launch of a so-called “application satellite” by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  

The Council has sent a firm and unified message.  I urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009).  As demanded by the Council, it should not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any further provocation.  I renew my call on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea authorities to build confidence with neighbouring countries and improve the lives of its people who face serious food and nutrition needs.  I also reaffirm my commitment to working for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. 

On Iran, the only acceptable outcome is a peaceful settlement that restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, in conformity with the NPT.  In this regard, I welcome the initial round of talks held in Istanbul between Iran and the E3+3 (France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Russian Federation, United States).  I hope that the parties build upon this at their next meeting in Baghdad.  It is important to agree on concrete and reciprocal steps towards a comprehensive negotiated solution.

I once again commend the focus of this meeting.  I hope that the Security Council will continue to highlight that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security as highlighted in relevant resolutions, including resolution 1887 (2009).

These discussions should be sustained at the highest levels.  As I have often said, the 2009 Security Council Summit chaired by President Obama should not be a one-time event.  I invite Council members to seriously consider follow-up at this year’s opening of the General Assembly. The international community looks to the Security Council to continue its leadership in generating the political momentum needed to achieve the peace and security of a world free from nuclear weapons.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.