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Arms talks deadlock increases nuclear threat: UN chief

UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned on Tuesday that the deadlock in global nuclear arms control talks in Geneva threatens international security by increasing the risk that weapons might fall into the wrong hands.

His comments came day after Pakistan reiterated its lone public opposition to starting talks in the Conference on Disarmament on a ban on the production of new nuclear bomb-making material.

“The continued deadlock has ominous implications for international security,” the UN Secretary General told the 65-nation body.

“The longer it persists, the graver the nuclear threat – from existing arsenals, from the proliferation of such weapons, and from their possible acquisition by terrorists,” he added.

Nuclear powers broke more than a decade of deadlock in May 2009 by agreeing on a work plan at the world’s only multilateral arms control forum, including negotiations on a fissile material ban, as well as lesser talks on nuclear disarmament.

However, the conference has slumped back into deadlock since then with nuclear weapons state Pakistan’s objections, as Islamabad said it feared neighbour and bigger nuclear rival India’s strategic ambitions.

Ban raised the stakes on Wednesday by underlining that the conference — which once forged major Cold War arms control deals and the nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty — has played only a small role in more recent disarmament efforts.

“Just one or two countries must not be able to block the process indefinitely,” Ban told the body. “The future of the CD (Conference on Disarmament) is in your hands.”

“With respect to the Fissile Material Treaty, it is clear that within the CD, there is almost universal support for negotiations on such a treaty,” he added.

Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram told journalists this month that his country “would like a treaty that deals with stocks not just future production.”