UN chief urges lawmakers to advance arms control agenda

19th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday that there were signs of progress on nuclear non-proliferation talks, and urged top lawmakers to step up pressure to advance the agenda.

"Recently, we have seen signs of progress," Ban said at the opening of the three-day World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in Geneva.

He noted that the United States and Russia recently concluded a new nuclear disarmament treaty, and that May's review conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty went well.

"With these building blocks, we are inching closer to a world free of nuclear weapons. But much more needs to be done," said the UN secretary general.

In particular, he called on parliamentarians to help bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to force.

The CTBT, which bans nuclear blasts for military or civilian purposes, was signed in 1996 by 71 states, including the five main nuclear weapon states: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

However, it has not come into force as it requires ratification by the required 44 states that had nuclear research or power facilities when it was adopted in 1996.

Ban also called for progress on arms control talks at the UN Conference on Disarmament.

"We also need to revitalise the Conference on Disarmament," said Ban, adding that he will convene a high-level meeting in New York in September for that end.

"Please keep up the pressure for change," he urged.

Nuclear powers broke more than a decade of deadlock by agreeing on a work plan in May last year at the Conference on Disarmament.

That included full "negotiations" on an international ban on the production of new nuclear bomb-making material, and talks on nuclear disarmament, the arms race in outer space and security assurances for non-nuclear states.

However, since then, the conference is once again locked in an impasse, with Pakistan blamed for blocking progress.

More than 150 speakers of parliaments are scheduled to attend the world conference organised by the the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a grouping of 155 national parliaments and assemblies.

© 2010 AFP

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