UN chief calls for strengthening NPT

May 1, 2010 12:10 pm 

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 — Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for strengthening the international treaty seeking to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons with renewed commitments toward disarmament and for tackling the issue of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

More than 100 senior officials from States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are expected to attend next week’s conference to carry out a review of the pact.

The conference opens on Monday and is slated to run until May 28 May. Nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and Israel have not joined the pact, which is aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

Pakistan says it would sign only after India does. The agenda includes elaboration on the three pillars of the treaty “disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy” and discussions on nuclear-free zones.

Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in May 1995. A total of 190 parties have joined the Treaty.

More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.

A similar conference five years ago collapsed, with non-nuclear states critical of the nuclear powers for not reducing their arsenals enough and with extended bickering over how to grapple with the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, whose nuclear programme is looked at with great suspicion by the United States and most of its Western allies, will lead his country’s delegation.

Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity and not geared to building nuclear weapons. The UN chief suggested that Iran needed to convince other states that its nuclear programme was strictly peaceful.

“If he brings some good constructive proposal in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, that will be helpful,” Ban told reporters.

He said he had been telling Iran that “the onus is on you, and you have not satisfied the requirements of the international community that your nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, as you claim.

Facing a fourth round of Security Council sanctions over the reported lack of transparency in its nuclear programme, Iran has embarked on a global diplomatic campaign.

Ahmadinejad’s presence in New York is evidently part of that effort because heads of state are relatively rare at the conferences, held every five years.

Ahmadinejad wants to attend the conference to reaffirm Iran’s commitment to the non-proliferation treaty, said Muhammad Reza Sahraei, the spokesman for the Iranian Mission.

At the 2005 conference, the United States engendered widespread hostility by playing down disarmament issues, diplomats and analysts said.

Obama administration created a better atmosphere this time by endorsing disarmament, they said, and by curbing the scope of when American weapons might be used and convening a summit meeting on security for nuclear materials in Washington earlier this month.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world should take inspiration from the recent agreement between the United States and Russia to further reduce their active warheads. Although Israel does not take part in the treaty, its nuclear arsenal has overshadowed recent conferences.

Egypt, Iran and other nonnuclear states have refused to back stricter inspections and other global measures as long as Israel is outside the treaty.

Maged Abdelaziz, Egypt’s UN ambassador, said the cases of Iran and Israel should be dealt with simultaneously.

“To be able to deal with the Iranian issue, you have to deal with the nuclear capabilities of Israel,” he told reporters. (PNA/APP)

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