UN Warns Against New Race for Nuclear Armament

UN Warns Against New Race for Nuclear Armament

Tuesday, 24 April, 2018 - 13:45
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu speaks during a Security Council meeting, at United Nations headquarters, April 18, 2018. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Geneva- Asharq Al Awsat
A top UN official sounded the alarm on Monday over a new, looming arms race and warned that the risk that devastating nuclear weapons could be used was on the rise.

"The threat of the use, intentional or otherwise, of nuclear weapons is growing," UN's Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu told a preliminary review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 2020.

“This threat, which includes humanity as a whole, will continue as long as there are nuclear weapons in national arsenals,” she said.

The NPT, which came into force in 1970, was extended indefinitely in 1995, to be evaluated every five years. In 2015, the delegates parted without agreement, according to AFP.

The meeting is being held this time while North Korea, which withdrew in 2003 from the NPT, declared a halt to its nuclear tests and the launching of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nakamitsu expressed the hope that these developments would contribute to “establishing trust and maintaining an atmosphere conducive to genuine dialogue and negotiation.”

“Today’s world faces challenges similar to those that led to the birth of the NPT,” she added.

According to Nakamitsu, the overall “geopolitical environment is deteriorating.” She noted that "modernization programs by nuclear-weapons states are leading to what many see as a new, qualitative arms race."

The NPT includes 191 countries, including Iran and the five permanent nuclear powers – the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China.

Israel, a nuclear-armed state, is not a member. India and Pakistan, which have nuclear weapons, have not signed the treaty.

Under the terms of the treaty, nuclear powers will refrain from transferring nuclear weapons and from helping a country acquire them while non-nuclear-weapon signatories undertake not to develop and acquire such weapons.

At the opening session of the NPT conference, the United States singled out North Korea and Iran as two of the greatest threats facing the non-proliferation regime.

Christopher Ford, US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation said that while the North continued to violate legally-binding UN Security Council resolutions, the nonproliferation regime faced a real, but longer-term challenge from Iran.

He also insisted that Pyongyang had "yet to return to compliance" with the NPT.

North Korea's nuclear program was one reason why "the nonproliferation regime today faces great threats," Ford said.

He also pointed to Iran's nuclear program, which he said remained "dangerously close to rapid weaponization."

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