[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the world's governments Wednesday to ensure the goal of nuclear non-proliferation by devaluing nuclear weapons and strengthening the treaties to limit and control them. Addressing the opening session of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD) [official website] in Geneva, Annan advocated renewed international efforts to secure compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [PDF text; UN backgrounder] and buttress that with other agreements.
In May Annan said in Tokyo that the NPT "faces a crisis in confidence and complicity" [JURIST report] as thousands of nuclear weapons still exist, and few nuclear powers seem to be genuinely considering cutbacks in nuclear strength. Now, he observed:
We must also resolve two specific situations. The impasse on the Korean Peninsula is especially disappointing given last September's agreement, in the six-party talks, which included a set of principles for a verifiable denuclearization of the Peninsula. I hope the leaders of the DPRK will listen to what the world is telling them, and take great care not to make the situation on the Peninsula even more complicated. Iran, for its part, needs to enable the IAEA to assure the world that its nuclear activities are exclusively peaceful in nature. In both cases, we need solutions that are not only peaceful, but that buttress the NPT's integrity. The NPT has proved an effective instrument. It is an achievement worth strengthening. And the Conference on Disarmament has a central role to play in that effort.Annan reminded the Conference that its last success, the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty [text; materials], was passed nine years ago and has still not been ratified by enough countries to take effect. He also urged the resumption of negotiations to end the production of fissile material, and asked for talks on heading off the weaponization of outer space. The US has refused to discuss outer-space militarization [CD press release], while Russia and China support negotiations. Read the full text of Annan's remarks. Reuters has more.